Any new lens suggestions y’all?

Alrighty. So I might have a slight addiction to my 50mm lens. I use it for everything…literally all my photo sessions, all the time. I like it a lot, okay?! And I bought it shortly after I got my camera, so I’m just pretty used to it.

That said, I am looking to branch out a wee bit. I’m thinking the Canon 24-70mm…but I didn’t realize it was SO expensive (like $2,300 expensive…I’d rather go on a tropical vacation with my entire family, thank-you-very-much!). I wasn’t looking to spend that much. Maybe $1,000, but definitely not double that. Well crap. Or maybe I should just look for a different, amazing prime lens? Like the 85mm or 100mm? Oh man. Decisions, decisions.

OR maybe I’ll just stick with my 50mm…people are always pleased with their photos, so why mess with a good thing, right? *le sigh*

Here are some fun photos from a family session this month.

My Kitchen Nightmare.

The other day I decided to make these rolls, which I’d discovered on Pinterest. They looked so yummy, and I was in the mood for carbs. Long story short, I whip out all the ingredients, melt the butter, etc…then I open the flour and to my absolute horror there were nasty, tiny brown bugs crawling everywhere inside the flour. *gag* It was seriously the grossest thing ever!

This was not the first time this had happened to me, but I always thought, “Oh, I must just not cook enough!” Little did I know these little buggers were already in there when I bought it! Ewwww.

After a quick “google” some research I stumbled upon this site, which quickly explained that they are a type of tiny beetle called a weevil. *gag again*  The worst part is that their eggs are already in the flour when you buy it! GROSS. Apparently though, they are perfectly harmless and we unintentionally eat them all the time (as if that made me feel better!).

To get rid of them, the site suggests you freeze flour every time you buy new stuff (it kills all the eggs), and if you’ve been unfortunate enough to find them already, disinfect your cabinets and throw away any dry goods they may have infested. Yuck.

What is your kitchen nightmare?

Sweet Butternut Squash Soup

As I was cooking this butternut squash soup for dinner, McKenzie said, “Oh boy, that smells so good my nose can’t resist it.” One: I’m not sure she can get much cuter. And two: it really is that good. I adapted this recipe from Liz @ The Lambent Life, who has such a fun blog! I say adapted because I use nearly all the same ingredients, but I added a few more spices…namely cinnamon and sugar. God knows I have a sweet-tooth! And hey, my four-year-old’s nose couldn’t resist it, so you know it must be good. ;)

Sweet Butternut Squash Soup

  • 1 medium butternut squash (about 2½ lbs), peeled, seeded, and cubed
  • 1 large apple, peeled and chopped
  • 1 large yellow onion
  • 1 red onion
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 2 packets chicken stock powder
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 tsp cinnamon (in addition to the cinnamon sticks! This makes it.)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1½ tsp celery seeds
  • ½ tsp nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp cayenne powder

In a stockpot, add chopped onion, apple, and squash. Fill pot with water so the ingredients about ¾ submerged. Bring water to a boil, stir in spices and the rest of the ingredients. Reduce to a low boil and cover. Cook until vegetables are soft, approximately 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Veggies/apples should be completely submerged at this point. Using a blender or food processor, puree the soup in batches (you might not want to use all the broth from the pot, or the soup might be too runny…use your judgement). Return to pot. Keep warm until ready to serve. Garnish with cinnamon. Enjoy!

**If you’re looking for a more savory soup (instead of sweet), omit the brown sugar, and instead add a splash of cooking sherry and about a tablespoon of garlic. Garnish with Parmesan cheese.

Seasonal Salads

I’m not a huge salad person…BUT these salads are amazing! I found them in the most recent Redbook issue and decided to try them. Let me tell you: they are delicious! Not traditional salads, but tasty nevertheless.

 

Lentil Salad with Provençal Pear & Gorgonzola

Prep time: 20 minutes | Cooking time: 30 minutes

Lentils

  • 1 cup Puy (green) lentils
  • 1 small carrot, quartered
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 sprigs Italian flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled, smashed
  • ¼ tsp kosher salt

Dressing

  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • ½ tsp kosher salt
  • ¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper Pears
  • 2 firm-ripe Bosc pears, quartered lengthwise
  • 2 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 2 tsp packed brown sugar
  • 3 oz Roquefort or Gorgonzola cheese, coarsely crumbled

1. Lentils: Rinse lentils with cold water. Tie carrot, thyme, parsley, and bay leaf in a bundle with string. Place lentils, bundle, garlic, and salt in a medium saucepan and cover with 4 cups cold water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer, partially covered, 25 minutes or until lentils are tender. Drain, and discard bundle and garlic.

2. Dressing: In a small glass measuring cup, whisk together all ingredients. While lentils are hot, toss with dressing in a large bowl.

3. Pears: Core pears and cut each quarter in half, lengthwise.

4. Heat butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add pears and sprinkle with brown sugar. Sauté on both sides until golden and slightly caramelized, 5 minutes.

5. Place lentils on a large platter. Arrange pears on top and sprinkle with Roquefort. Serve immediately. Personally, I think the pears make the salad! It’s an interesting combo of sweet/bitter.

Makes 4 servings. Each serving: 424 cal, 23 g fat, 16 g protein, 42 g carb.

 

Butternut Squash Salad with Tahini Dressing

Prep time: 25 minutes | Cooking time: 35 minutes

Salad

  • 1 butternut squash (2 lbs), peeled, halved, seeded, and cut into 1-inch chunks…(for me, peeling the squash took forever!)
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • ½ tsp paprika
  • ½ tsp kosher salt
  • ¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ cup pumpkin seeds
  • 8 cups baby arugula
  • ⅓ cup coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • ¼ cup raisins
  • 4 oz Feta cheese, coarsely crumbled

Dressing

  • 2 Tbsp plain Greek yogurt
  • 2 Tbsp tahini
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 small clove garlic, minced
  • ¼ tsp kosher salt

1. Heat oven to 375°F.

2. Salad: On a large rimmed baking sheet, toss squash, oil, paprika, salt, and pepper and spread out evenly. Roast 35 minutes, stirring halfway through, until squash is tender and starting to caramelize. Sprinkle squash with pumpkin seeds for the last 5 minutes of roasting.

3. Dressing: In a bowl, whisk together all ingredients. Whisk in 2 Tbsp boiling water.

4. In a large bowl, gently toss squash, arugula, parsley, raisins, and Feta cheese. Arrange on a platter. Drizzle dressing over salad.

Makes 4 servings. Each serving: 338 cal, 21 g fat, 9 g protein, 34 g carb.

I hope you enjoy these recipes! I, personally, love the Butternut Squash Salad. I’ve decided that I like to omit the feta and arugula for a simple, yet tasty, butternut squash medley. I think the raisins make it! Oh, and the candied pears on the Lentil Salad are wonderful…I might have to make them by themselves for desert sometime. =)

Hair Part II

As promised, here is the “after” photo of my new haircut/highlights/low-lights. The stylist, Jece (pronounced “Jessie”), did a really nice job. I originally found her through a Groupon, and I was very impressed with how she listened and executed the cut/color. I wish I left it a little longer, but it definitely looks healthier. The low-lights definitely darkened it up a bit! Works for fall though. I also got side-swept bangs. Overall, I love it! It’s much, much healthier and hopefully it will grow out nice and healthy too!

After…

Hair, hair, hair…

Today is the day…I’m getting a haircut & highlights (and maybe low-lights?). I always wait wayyy longer than I should to get my hair done! Is it a “Momma” thing where everything else has to be done/paid for first? Or is that just me?

Before…

Anyhow, I definitely feel like I need a change, but maybe I’ll chicken out again…because I say this every time I go to the salon. Who knows. I could probably cut 6 inches and no one would notice at this point! It’s that long. Either way, it definitely needs a few inches off to be healthy again. We shall see! I’ll post an “after” tomorrow… =)

New Schedule = Adjustments

Since McKenzie started school there have definitely been some adjustments going on in our house. First of all, she doesn’t quite grasp the concept of weekends, and it’s particularly confusing since her 4K schedule is Tuesday-Friday (12:07-3:17…how random is that?!). She gets really disappointed on the days she doesn’t have class. Also, until now she’s been a regular napper…minimum 2 hours/day. So we still have her nap on the weekends, but not on school days. It’s less than ideal, especially since school starts at her nap time…I really wish she were the morning class! How do I resolve this issue without waking her up ridiculously early? I’m not sure there’s a good solution. Although, on her “school days” she goes to bed gloriously early.

Anyhow, we walk to school since it’s so close (literally less than a ½ mile away). Which means I walk about 2 miles a day to drop her off/pick her up. Unintentional workout. Score! Haha. I usually bring one of the dogs so they get some exercise too. McKenzie loves to walk them, and it’s adorable.

Yesterday, I watched our friends’ 5-month-old identical twin boys for 6 hours while they were in work/class. It was so fun! Exhausting, but fun. How are miniature people so tiring? I guess I forgot. But it was SO cute to see McKenzie interact with them…she’ll be a very good big sister someday! It was adorable to see. She went and got her books and started reading to them…well maybe not reading, but making up stories to go with all the pictures, which is pretty darn cute anyway. =)

Confessions of a Netflix Junkie.

About a year ago, we decided to cancel our cable. We didn’t watch it enough to justify spending $70+ dollars a month, so we decided to give Netflix a try…and we love it! ((We use the streaming version through our blu-ray player.)) And the best part is that we’re still able to watch our favorite shows on network TV. It’s how I unwind after everyone in the house is asleep. Not gonna lie, I’m a Netflix junkie.

Another reason I love Netflix is the iPad app. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been allowed to sleep in because we turn on Netflix for McKenzie and let her watch a Sesame Street while we catch a few more Zzzzz…sometimes that extra hour of sleep on a Saturday is heavenly! Or taking the iPad into the bathtub and soaking while watching my favorite shows…equally heavenly!

Since I’m such a fiend, I thought I’d give you my top 10 picks for Netflix TV shows (in no particular order). Believe me, we’ve watched many more, but these are my faves. Please feel free to tell me any good shows I’ve missed, I’m always looking for more!

Adults

  1. Breaking Bad
  2. Madmen
  3. White Collar
  4. Luther
  5. The Kill Point
  6. Gossip Girl
  7. Vampire Diaries
  8. Weeds
  9. Lost
  10. Dollhouse

Kiddos (Preschool/Kindergarten)

  1. Sesame Street…can’t beat the classics!
  2. Arthur
  3. Curious George (I am actually entertained watching this!)
  4. My Little Ponies
  5. Dora and/or Diego
  6. Martha Speaks (I love the “word of the day” theme.)
  7. Angelina Ballerina
  8. Dinosaur Train
  9. The Laurie Berkner Band (2 different song/dance shows on Netflix.)
  10. Super Why

You might notice that many of the kid’s shows I’ve listed are PBS Kids. That’s because PBS Kids rocks. They are often gender-neutral, light-hearted, with great life lessons and educational messages. Oh, and if you have an iPad, PBS Kids has an app. *amazing* I highly recommend it.

One more thing: I don’t like to use the words “hate” and “children” in the same sentence…BUT I hate the children’s show Caillou. His voice is constantly set on “whine” mode, and anytime he doesn’t get what he wants, he whines and cries until his parents give him what he wants. Gee, that’s exactly what I want to teach my kid…not.

And you know what’s funny? You know you don’t have cable when…your kid asks you “What’s a commercial?” Haha, yup. *pats self on back* One less way the media influences my child. Netflix 1, Cable 0.

My bright-eyed girl.

Oh, McKenzie. You light up our lives. Your bright eyes and contagious smile make us complete.

This picture reminds me of why I bought my camera in the first place. When McKenzie was a baby we used to go to Sears Portrait Studio to get her photos done. They were nice enough, and we were happy with them because they were our beautiful baby girl.

One day, though, we went and not only did they make us wait 45 minutes past our appointment time, but the photographer told McKenzie she was being “bad.” Um, yeah. Never call my kid bad. I wanted to smack her. Just sayin’. And if she had bad behavior, maybe it’s because we waited nearly an hour past our appointment, and it was her nap time. (And for the record, she wasn’t being bad, she just wasn’t looking at the camera).

After that little incident I decided I could do better myself. And I do. This is my McKenzie…it’s her. It’s her personality captured perfectly in a photo, and this is what I aim to do with all my clients. But I guess it was a good thing in the end, because it gave me the push I needed to start my business. No more Sears for us. =)