Category Archives: Photography

A Saturday Out…

Our bathroom was being gutted, so Rachel and I decided to go out for breakfast and a walk on Saturday. We started at Cafe Faux Pas, a place that does crepes really well. We split a savory crepe of egg, bacon, and camembert, then we each got a sweet crepe. Mine was, of course, chocolate and Nutella because that’s always what I go for. I loved the way they put things on top of the crepe to show you what was inside. Both were delicious.

We then trekked down to the river to go through the large farmer’s market there. We got macrons, and gingerbread, and cider. Rachel also bought earrings and a coat. There was much to see and it was crowded. To get away from the crowd and take a nice walk, we climbed the stairs to Vysehrad. The beautiful basilica of Saint Peter and Paul is nestled next to the national cemetery, which is unlike any cemetery I’ve ever seen. The sculptures and mosaics here are beautiful, and instead of slabs, there are often plots filled with flowers and plants. It was very peaceful to wander through there.

We then walked around the perimeter of the park, enjoying the views of the city and the river. It was a gorgeous day, and a group of sailboats was on the river. I photographed some ruins from around the 10th century as well as the lovely river scene.

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Lastly, my favorite photo of the day: a narrow doorway in an old wall. I just love everything about this image.

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Wandering…

Shelby, Jen, and I had to run an errand the other day, so we decided to make an afternoon of it. Once we were finished with work stuff, we ran our errand. Afterward, we just sort of wandered, taking in some of the beautiful architecture of Prague. Here we are, me, Jen, and Shelby, just hanging out on the Charles Bridge:

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We wandered into a beautiful, quiet church for a few minutes of peacefulness:

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There is amazing architecture everywhere you look:

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Below are a few images from the Charles Bridge:

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Below is the view from the Charles Bridge. Guys, I live here.

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Adventures with Rachel, Pt. 1

I’ve titled this post as such because I have a sneaking suspicion that I’ll have more adventures with my friend, Rachel, to share with you in the future. Rachel and I met at Taylor University when we were are major undergrads. We both just happen to be teaching in Prague at the same time, so we’ve rekindled our old friendship. I had almost forgotten how much fun I have with Rachel. Here we are!

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Anyway, last Sunday, she took me to a restaurant up by the Strahov Monastery, which houses one of the most beautiful libraries in the world. Below is a picture of the monastery, but click the link highlighted above to go to the website and do a virtual tour. It’s a beautiful place.

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Below is the restaurant/beer garden we ate at, and it was great. It’s called Velka Klasterni. The food was delicious, the beer was perfect, and we had great conversation.

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And you cannot beat the view of the city from up here:

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To the left of the image is Prague Castle, which Rachel and I walked to and wandered around. Below is a close up of part of the castle compound. We did a lot of wandering and exploring. We ended our day with the amazing gelato at Creme de la Creme (future post – stay tuned) as we sat overlooking the river.

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Hanspaulka

The school year has begun here in Prague, and those of us in UpWord English are working tirelessly to plan for our students. Let me tell you: I work with a great group of people. They’re considerate, communicative, and collaborative. (How about THAT alliteration!?) They’re passionate about what they do. If you’re a praying person, please be in prayer for the team below:

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I know some of you want to know who is who, so here we go, starting with the back row on the left side: Shelby, Emma, Annemarie, Me, Misha, Ela. Next row: Jane, Cassidy, Trisha, Jen, and Lenka. In front, we have Elaine, Andrea, and Jana. Did I mention that I already love these people?!

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Here is a glimpse of Hanspaulka, the school at which I’m teaching. Yes, those are apple trees. We ate fresh apples off the trees like crazy during our training week. They were juicy, crisp, and had just the right balance of sweetness and tartness.

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You’ll be hearing a lot from Hanspaulka and my teammates over the next two years…

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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!

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Watching the Capuchin monkeys on Monkey Island:

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These boys were really excited to see the honey badger:

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

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

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

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

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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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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.

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Ingredients:

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.

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Enjoy. Indulge.

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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.

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

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