Camera: Zoo Day

Our kindergarteners took their annual trip to the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo, which seems to be a right of passage for every kindergartener in northeast-north central Indiana. I love this day: watching the excitement of all the kids, especially those for whom this is their first and/or possibly only visit. They are so excited and everything is interesting to them. Kindergarteners can be quite exhausting, with endless questions and chatter and tying shoes and messes to clean up and tears to dry. However, they are also at an age in which they are still filled with wonder and excitement and a passion for learning new things. We have a great class this year, and I love these kids. Experiencing the zoo with them was such a blessing!


Watching the Capuchin monkeys on Monkey Island:






These boys were really excited to see the honey badger:


Bill the lion put on quite a show for the kids, even letting out a great, frightening roar:






Those are a few of my boys with a dad, watching the giraffes from the bridge:


Another dad points out differences in animal skulls to his group of boys:


My sweet, silly girls play in “prehistoric” eggs:


A group shot of about a third of our class, standing in front of a Safari Jeep:


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Camera: Ringdown

Some of you may know that my baby brother got engaged over the weekend. I really love his fiance and am so excited for her to join our family! The ring is just gorgeous, so, naturally, I had to photograph it. Enjoy the images below of my brother’s excellent taste. Also, Shane Co., feel free to contact me about using my photographs, if you wish. My brother was extremely satisfied with his service there as well as the quality of your work.











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Camera: Nick & Neha & Baby on the Way

Some of you may remember seeing Nick and Neha before on my blog. I took their engagement photos, photographed Neha’s mehndi, and photographed their wedding. Now, they are two months away from being parents, and they asked me to shoot a few maternity photos. One of the things I love about working with Nick and Neha is that they are not fussy people. They like simple and basic, and they aren’t afraid to try anything. I have so enjoyed celebrating these milestones in their relationship, and I look forward to meeting, enjoying and photographing baby Theo!







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Camera: New Life

Recently, my mom’s side of the family welcomed its newest member, Eliza. My Nana now serves as the matriarch for most of the cousins, so they brought Eliza by to meet her. I captured some sweet photos, especially the one just below of my mom, her mom, and our new cousin. I’m hoping to get a shot like this someday in which the baby is my sister’s, so this is my subtle way of telling her & her husband to get moving. Welcome to our family, sweet Eliza!



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Canvas: May Flowers

As I continue to play with this new style of my artistic creations, I’m utilizing my older photographs as guides. One of my favorite photos is of my mom’s spring flowers after a good rain. I decided to recreate it, choosing my own colors as opposed to those in the photograph. The piece below is 5×7″ and is an ink drawing with colored pencil. I was curious to see just how far I could manipulate my basic Crayola pencils, and I am in love with the results.


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Kitchen: Cinnamon Rolls

Making cinnamon rolls from scratch is a lot of work. Much work. For some freakish reason, I tend to enjoy these tedious baking projects. Naturally, one weekend, I decided to attempt this recipe. Now, these rolls were a big hit with the family, and they turned out beautifully, but they are definitely a once-in-a-while treat, and not just because of all the butter and sugar. They are so much work.

I used a recipe I found on Pinterest because, yes, I am one of those women who actually attempts the recipes she finds on Pinterest. They are based on the recipe used by Cinnabon, and are gooey and indulgent and comforting. They also reheat really well.



For the dough:
3/4 cup warm water
2 and 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup buttermilk, room temperature
1 egg
1/3 cup oil
4 and 1/2 – 5 cups all-purpose flour

For the filling:
1 and 1/4 cups light brown sugar
2 and 1/2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 cup (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, room temperature

For the cream cheese frosting:
2 oz cream cheese, room temperature
1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, room temperature
pinch of vanilla powder ( or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract)
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1 and 1/4 cups powdered sugar, sifted

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, add water, yeast, and 1 tablespoon of the granulated sugar. Stir together, then let the yeast rise for about 5-10 minutes. In a small bowl, whisk together buttermilk, egg, and oil until well-combined. After 10 minutes, the yeast should look frothy and bubbly. At this point, pour in the buttermilk mixture, remaining sugar, and salt, and stir together for 10-15 seconds.

Pour in 2 cups of the measured flour, and stir on low speed until incorporated. Continue to pour in flour, 1/4 cup at a time, until the dough pulls away from the bowl and bowl starts to look clean. Increase speed to medium and knead for 5 minutes. The dough should be slightly sticky, but not sticky enough to stick to your fingers when touched.

Transfer dough to a greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap, then set aside in a warm place to rise for 1-2 hours, or until dough has doubled in size.

Meanwhile, prepare the filling. In a small bowl, mix together brown sugar, cinnamon, and cornstarch until combined.

Butter an 11×15 inch glass baking dish, then line with parchment paper, and butter again.

Once dough has risen, liberally flour a large, clean work surface. Punch down the dough to remove air bubbles, then transfer it to the work surface. Roll the dough out into a large rectangle, roughly 20×30 inches wide. Spread softened butter over the surface of the dough, leaving a 1-inch strip on the edge of the dough farthest from you untouched. Evenly sprinkle cinnamon sugar mixture over the butter, then use a rolling pin to gently roll over the mixture and slightly press it into the butter.

Starting with the edge of the dough closest to you, gently roll up the dough into a tight log, sealing it with the strip of dough you left untouched. Cut off any uneven ends. Score dough every two inches, then use those marks to evenly slice your dough into rolls.

Place rolls into parchment paper lined baking dish. Cover with plastic wrap, then set aside in a warm place to rise 1-2 hours, or until rolls have doubled in size and are almost touching each other. Bake in preheated 350 degree oven for 15-17 minutes, or until tops start to brown. Do not overbake!

While rolls are baking, prepare your frosting. In a bowl, using an electric hand mixer, beat together butter and cream cheese until smooth and creamy. Add vanilla and lemon juice and beat until combined. Pour in powdered sugar and mix on low speed just until incorporated. Then, increase speed to high and beat for an additional 5 minutes, or until frosting turns white.

Once you remove the rolls from the oven, spread half of the frosting on top of them. This layer will melt into the rolls. Once they’ve cooled down, spread on the remaining frosting. Serve warm or reheat before serving. IMG_2660IMG_2661IMG_2665

Enjoy. Indulge.

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Canvas: Ireland

I’m visiting my sister and brother-in-law this week and was reminded of two 5×7″ ink & watercolor pieces I made them for Christmas. I neglected to photograph them then, so please forgive the image quality below (it’s from a phone). Both pieces are ink drawings on paper with watercolor washes. These are the smallest dimensions I’ve worked in a while, and using ink so delicately was a challenge. Overall, I’m happy with the framed results.

This is based on a photograph of Greystones, Ireland, where my sister and her husband both spent semesters of college.


This piece is based on a photograph of the DART, the train that runs from Dublin. As the dimensions of the pieces were so small, working in the details with ink was an intricate challenge.


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Kitchen: An Italian Brunch

I’ve been wanting to make this brunch for my parents for a long time. It is composed of many of my favorite things: crisp prosciutto, polenta loaded with parmegianno regiano and goat cheese, and perfectly poached eggs. It may sound intimidating, but it isn’t, trust me. The polenta took about 3 minutes, if that. You follow the package directions, then add whatever you want at the end (in this case, a couple of cheeses) The prosciutto was put on a baking sheet in a 350-degree oven until it reached my desired crispiness.

The trick for me here was the poached eggs, as I’ve never made them before. It’s my favorite way to eat an egg, all softly textured with the rich, creamy yolk, but I only get them when I’m at a restaurant that will make them for me. I did what any curious cook with the internet should do: I googled and YouTubed how to make poached eggs. Some said to swirl the cooking liquid, some said it isn’t necessary. Some said add vinegar, some said it’s unnecessary.

I wound up cracking one egg at a time into a small, mesh sieve. This drains away all the loose whites that make poached eggs look raggedy. I then gently laid it into a large pan of simmering water. All I put in the water was salt, no vinegar. I then left the eggs alone, no stirring, no poking; I just kept an eye on them until all the whites had firmed up and there was no “clear” egg in the water. I surprised myself with delightful results.

Let me tell you, there are few things so decadent as a perfectly poached egg broken over a bowl of cheesy polenta. This meal stays with you for a long time.


Behold the glory of a breakfast I wish I could eat every morning:


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Travel: Girls in Grand Rapids

My college roomies and I reunited for our annual Columbus Day weekend adventure. This year, we went to Grand Rapids, Michigan, home of the roommate I had all four years of college. This occurred during Grand Rapids’s famous Art Prize, so we, of course, ventured into the delightful downtown. We had gorgeous weather, art was everywhere we turned, and downtown Grand Rapids has many wonderful dining options and coffeehouses.


Here are my girls on a rooftop, where an interesting exhibit commented on America and war.


This wall reflected light and dazzling color. Upon closer inspection, it was all made of plastic bottles!


I am always drawn to water for the peace it brings me, so I was naturally interested in pieces that evoked water. Below is a graphite pencil drawing. Please excuse the poor image quality, but consider the fact that someone has captured a substance that constantly ebbs and flows with a mere pencil.


Beyond Art Prize, we enjoyed great food and a beer fest at Founders during their Oktoberfest bash.  I am completely ashamed because we went to this amazing coffeehouse and I cannot remember its name. All I can tell you is they handcraft each cup of coffee, and my life-changing cup was black with honey. HONEY. I had never tried this before, and I cannot tell you how much I loved the combination. Also, this coffehouse was super busy, so they apparently have a reputation for well-crafted hot drinks. We also spent some quality time at Robinette’s Apple Haus and Winery, enjoying an autumn lunch, cider, fresh, hot donuts, and, for a couple of us, the wine-tasting room. Our weekends are never super expensive or fancy, which is proof that with some research and know-how, you can have a great mini-vacation anywhere you go.


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Camera: Ethan

So, months ago, I shot senior photos in a beautiful corner of Indiana. Ethan has a great personality, and I enjoyed taking his pictures. His wonderful girlfriend was a great participant, as well as the pickup truck he and his friend built. I love doing photo shoots on a location rather than inside a formal space. I feel a subject’s personality emerges more when he/she is in a space he/she loves. Also, natural light is always better. Anyway, here’s to Ethan and the great future he has ahead of him: Semper fi!







And, my favorite:


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