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Friday, December 30, 2011

Happy Friday! Resolutions


I've seen this picture before, but I still think it's funny--maybe a little more sad than funny.  But I guess sometimes we find shortcuts to achieve our New Year's Resolutions. For all of you who have resolutions this year, stick with them!  

Happy Friday and HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Camera Bags

The more camera equipment I get, the more space I need to store it.  The original bag my camera came with can't hold all of the lenses my friends at Parapet Photography equipped me with.  I've been doing some research and during the height of my research, my husband got me an awesome bookbag camera bag for Christmas that I can use when we travel and experience our outdoor adventures--yeah, he's pretty amazing!  I had the chance to use it on our trip to Japan over Christmas and it was worked so well.

The bookbag would do well for my work, but it's a little difficult to get in and out of while balancing a notepad and recorder when I'm out capturing shots for news reports. Basically, I'm looking for a place to store my camera, lenses, pen, notepad, tape recorder, and business cards in readily accessible locations.
While checking out camera bags I realized how pricey these babies really are.  Well, the thrifty side of my brain quickly went into action and I began thinking about ways I can create something just as stylish for less. 

For now, here are some pictures that have helped inspire my project:




 So many cool looks!  I actually made my own and I can't wait to share what look I decided to go with! Check back in a couple of days for a look at mine!


Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Natural Hairstyles

I love having natural hair--meaning, I love not using chemicals in it to straighten it or change its texture. I'm not saying that doing those things is wrong, all I'm saying is that natural hair just works better for me.  Believe me, I know it's not for everyone.  I wasn't even sure it was right for me for a little while.  In fact, it took a few months for me to fully embrace the natural state of my hair in all its puffy glory. 

Here's a picture of me with my brother.  I was 5 with a super full head of natural hair.

In the past, I shared some brief snippets from the history of my hair in a couple of posts (here & here) and you can see a few more pictures of me over the years wearing different hairstyles.  Well, I've been thinking about trying out some new natural hairstyles or even different ways to go about getting the same looks in different ways.

Here are some styles that I'm really loving right now:
Maybe one day, I'll just let loose and let my hair fly free like this--one day...
 Oh, this styles is so cute.  I love it!
 My husband loves when I wear cornrows and they're so easy to manage. 

Goodness, there are so many different styles to choose from, but I'll start with these.  I'm going to be bold and try to style and wear my hair like the top two pictures at some point over the next few weeks.  I'll take pictures to share with you all.  And, I'll bust out the braids also--even though it's not summertime and I consider this look my summertime hairstyle.  I can't do them on my own, but I know someone who does them very well.

Does anyone else out there wear their hair natural?  How are you styling it these days?

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Banana Muffins

My Homemade Banana Muffin Recipe
As my husband and I returned home from an event the other evening, I was really craving something sweet to nibble on.  Since we don't have a lot of snacks or sweets in our home, I thought about something I could whip up quickly.  Then I remembered I had 3 ripe bananas hanging on our fruit rack.  Perfect!  Ripe bananas = banana muffins! You may remember a similar equation in an earlier post.

I thought about all of the ingredients I would need for this project and I had all of them--excellent!  I've used few different banana muffin/bread recipes over the years and I've adapted my own.  This time I added chopped walnuts and raisins and I think they turned out nicely!

Here's what I used for this batch of muffins:

  • 1/2 stick (4-5 tablespoons) softened butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 or 3 very ripe bananas
  • 2/3 cup sugar 
  • 1 tsp vanilla (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon (optional)
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 1/3 cup all-purpose unbleached flour
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder 
  1. Preheat oven to 350F.  In one bowl combine butter, eggs, bananas, sugar, raisins, and vanilla (optional).
  2. In another bowl combine flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, and walnuts. 
  3. Combine both bowls and mix until all ingredients are well blended.
  4. Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups. Bake in preheated oven for 18 to 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into center of a muffin comes out clean.
  5. Eat! (And hopefully enjoy) 
Please let me know if you try this recipe and what you think. 

Monday, December 26, 2011

Spiced Eggplant & Beef (or Turkey) Stir-Fry

Spiced Eggplant and Turkey Stir-Fry
I recently tried this recipe and it was a hit in our home.  The original recipe called for ground sirloin, but I used ground turkey and it turned out to be very tasty.  

  • 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, cut into 1/2 -inch strips
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tbsp sweet paprika
  • 3/4 tsp sea salt
  • 2 Roma tomatoes, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 lb baby eggplant, cut into 1/2-inc rounds
  • 1 yellow squash, cut into 1/2-inch rounds
  • 1/2 lb extra-lean ground sirloin or ground turkey
  • 1/4 cup minced radish tops, rinsed well and patted dry, optional
  1. In a large nonstick pan, heat 1 tsp oil on medium for 1 minute.  Add onion and pepper and saute for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.  
  2. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, blend cumin, coriander, paprika and salt. *I added 2 tsp of garlic powder for more seasoning* Set spice blend aside. 
  3. Stir tomatoes and garlic into onion mixture on stove top and cook for another 2 minutes.  Add remaining 2 tsp oil and stir in eggplant and squash.  Cover pan and cook for 5 minutes.  Scoop mixture into a large bowl and set aside.
  4. Place the same pan back on medium heat and add sirloin.  Cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly.  Add reserved spice blend and cook for 1 minute longer.  Remove pan from heat and return vegetables to pan, mixing well, for 1 minute or until heated through.  Divide stir-fry mixture among 4 bowls or plates, garnishing with radish tops, if desired. 
Serves 4; Hands-on time 30 minutes; total time 30 minutes
Recipe Courtesy of Clean Eating June 2011


Friday, December 23, 2011

Happy Friday! Merry Christmas!

I hope you all have a blessed and wonderful weekend!   
Merry Christmas!


Thursday, December 22, 2011

Me and My Juicer

A few months ago, I decided to purchase a juicer.  I was hesitant to make the purchase because I didn't want to just buy an appliance and leave it sitting around.  Oh, am I glad I made this purchase!   Since the time I've set it up in our home, I've juiced hundreds fruits and vegetables.  I seriously love this thing!  I did my research before buying the juicer.  I sought out the guidance of Consumer Reports to find which juicer does the best work without breaking the bank.  And the winner was...

Hamilton Beach 67601H Big Mouth 800 Watt Juice Extractor
For a few weeks, I juiced fresh juice every morning and I'd clean out all the parts everyday, not that it was difficult, I just thought there had to be a better way.  Then I came up with a wonderful idea--what if I buy enough fruits and veggies to juice enough for a whole week in one day?  So, I bought 7 mason jars with lids and started a routine of juicing every morning and filling up each jar that way I have a fresh jar of juice each morning and I don't have to clean out the juicer every day.  When my husband got home, he said he wanted in on the mason jar deal, so I've extended our jar collection and I now juice twice as much for the both of us.  Such a great way to get our vitamins every day.  

I promise I'm not being paid to advertise, I just really love this product and wanted to share it with you all.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Photo Challenge #11 #12 and #13: Silhouette, Bokeh, and Hands

Silhouette:  I took this photo at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial in Washington DC.  I was so excited to see this!
Bokeh:  My first try at bokeh of our Christmas tree.  I'll have to use this more often and see what I can do with it. 
 Hands:  I actually didn't take this picture, my friend did.  The hands represented are mine, my husband's my dad's, and two classmates.

Have you taken any photos lately?  Please share!

Linking Here

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

12 Hours of Christmas Cheer

Hi Everyone!  Only 5 days until Christmas!  Can you believe that?? I can't! 

Well, today, I'm guest posting over at The Artsy Girl Connection for the 12 Hours of Christmas Cheer Series.  Marilyn has gathered a bunch of bloggers (including myself) to capture Christmas through a series of photos for 12 hours!  Cool, huh?  Click on over and visit!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Yarn Ball Wreaths

Daydreaming about crafts.  A couple of weeks ago, one of my sisters told me to look at yarn ball wreaths online.  She's living in a place where arts and crafts stores aren't readily available so she recommended that I check them out and try to make one.  Well, here I am almost a month after that conversation and I have not made a yarn ball wreath.  But, they are so cool looking and I think I can pick out colors to compliment any season of the year. 
Check them out:  
This one's very festive for Christmas 
I love these colors.  Perfect for a Winter wreath
I could see using one like this for Winter or for Spring
This could be for Christmas or Fall.  So pretty!  But I guess there's really no yarn in this one.  Hah--whoops!

Have you made one of these?  Send me a link with your picture or just a picture and I'll feature your skills!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Happy Friday! Street Signs


My husband and I will be heading up to Amish country in Pennsylvania soon to visit some of his family members (they're not Amish they just live in that part of the state).  I haven't seen this sign on any visits there before, but I'll keep my eyes open and my camera on hand just in case!

Happy Friday!!!  I hope you have a wonderful weekend!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Photo Challenge #9 and #10: Technology and From a Distance

So I know I don't typically do photo challenges 2 days in a row, but I had to make an exception on this one.  I was asked to cover President Obama's speech yesterday and I was able to get a few pictures of the event. Here are some photos I took at the event.

Technology:  I still can't believe I was in the press risers with international broadcasters!

From a Distance:  President Obama giving his speech.

Have you taken any new photos?  Please share!  I'd love to see them!

Linking Here: 

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Photo Challenge #8: My Shoes

I'm continuing the photo challenge and I'm having a lot of fun with it.  I wasn't really sure what to expect when I started this photo challenge.  Do I take a picture of all of my shoes or just one pair?  Do I take a picture of me wearing them or not wearing them?  Well, I decided to take pictures of the shoes I was wearing and I had so-much-fun with this challenge.  I had fun taking the pictures and editing them.  I think the last one's my favorite. 

Here's what I came up with:  
Shoes a shelf

Shoes on my feet

Shoes on the patio

Shoes looking pretty

 Is anyone else doing a photo challenge?  I'd love, love, love to see what you're snapping these days.

Linking Here: 

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Slow-Cooked Curried Chickpeas (With Chicken)

I also got this recipe from Clean Eating Magazine (January 2011 issue)--I can't help it, the recipes are so tasty and healthy!  The winning combination in my book.  The recipe didn't call for chicken, but I wanted to add chicken because we eat chicken and we like it.

Slow-cooked curried chickpeas with chicken--so tasty!

  • 1 lb chickpeas, rinsed and picked over (about 2 1/4 cups)
  • 1 rutabaga (1.5-2 lb), peeled and cut into 3/4-inch diced (appx 4 cups)
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 5 tsp curry powder
  • 3 tsp cumin (I added this because I wanted some more flavor, the recipe didn't call for it)
  • 2 tsp mild chile powder
  • 1 lb mustard or collard greens, thick stems removed and leaves chopped (about 8 cups), divided
  • 1 1/4 tsp sea salt, divided
  • Fresh ground pepper, to taste
  • 1 1/2 cups uncooked brown rice (I used quinoa instead)
  • 3/4 cup jarred water-packed roasted red peppers, patted dry and sliced
  • 1 cup nonfat plain Greek-style yogurt
  • 1/4 cup cilantro
  • Lime wedges, for garnish, optional (I opted out of this one)
  1. Place chickpeas in a large saucepan and add water to cover by about 3 inches.  Bring to a boil over high heat and cook for 5 minutes.  Reduce heat to medium and simmer, partially covered, for 1 hour.  Stir occasionally and add additional water, if needed, to cover chickpeas.  Drain and rinse. (You can adjust this step if you're using canned chickpeas.  
  2. Place chickpeas, rutabaga, onion, garlic and bay leaf (I added *cooked chicken too) in a 5-7 quart slow cooker, then add 5 cups water, cover with lid and cook on high for 4-5 hours or on low for 8-10 hours (whichever is most convenient).  About 30-45 minutes before chickpea mixture is done, add curry and chile powders (and for me, cumin) and stir to combine.  Add about half of greens and replace lid for 5 minutes, until wilted.  Then add remaining greens and continue cooking for remaining time or until chickpeas are tender.  (Finished dish should be slightly soupy; you can remove excess water with a ladle)  Stir in 1 tsp salt and black pepper.  (I added a bit more salt to taste). 
  3. Meanwhile, cook rice or quinoa.  Serve chickpeas over rice and top with red peppers, yogurt and cilantro.  Garnish with lime wedges on the side, if desired.  
Serves 8. Hands-on time: 25 minutes. Total Time: 5-6 hours or 9-10 hours depending on crock-pot setting
Recipe Courtesy of Clean Eating Magazine

 *Cooked Chicken- I chopped chicken breast and cooked it in a pan seasoning it with salt, pepper, garlic powder, and diced onion.

Linking Here:

Monday, December 12, 2011

Photo Challenges #6 and #7- Low and High Angles. Idaho

I shared some pictures of our trip to Idaho in a previous post, but I didn't share very many.  It's very beautiful out there and though I captured a few snap shots, I don't feel like these pictures really do it justice.  The first series of pictures were taken at Swan River Falls, Idaho.  I'll let the pictures "speak" on their own.

Here's my shot from a high angle:

 Here's my shot from a low angle:

Have you ever visited Idaho?  What did you think about it? 

Linking Here: 

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