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Switching Servers

August 14, 2011

Over the weekend I signed up with a new web host over at KatiekDid . If you were subscribed to my blog you can update your subscription by clicking here.  Head over there for all my new posts, and still the same everything else.



Filling Up My Cup and Chocolate Pancakes

August 12, 2011

One day, when I was my philosophical eleven year old self, I asked my best friend if she saw the glass half empty or half full. Of course I failed to mention this was a figurative saying, not to be taken literally. She pondered and answered that if it were orange juice she would like it half full. But water; half empty. Of course we got a great chuckle out of this as I tried to describe to her what I really meant by the question… although her answer was pretty spot on for an average eleven year old. 


My answer these days is usually half full…

Within minutes of waking up, you can find my head deep in the fridge rummaging for my mason jar of iced coffee and cream. Always cream. I fill up my mug to the brim, and re-fill when it gets dangerously close to half empty.

A few hours of work and whatnot later, it’s time to fill up on something solid. Insert eggs most mornings.

But yesterday was different. Yesterday I filled up on these incredible chocolate pancakes. The wonderful Alex did it again with another genius recipe! Literally seconds after she posted her bitter chocolate waffles yesterday, I ran to my kitchen and made a batch myself.

I made a couple of changes:

             I added a dash of vanilla extract.

                               I used melted butter for the fat.

                                            I added a handful of dried cranberries (highly recommended).

                                                                         Oh and I made pancakes instead of waffles but thats trivial.

And for a topping I blended a bunch of frozen strawberries until smooth and microwaved them to make a deliciously sweet strawberry syrup. Plus more chocolate obviously!

Make these, you won’t be disappointed. Unless you eat more than half the batch and wind up with a massive stomach ache and glued to the couch for the rest of the morning. Oops. Talk about filling up.

Once I felt better I biked down to the lake for a swim. A decathlon if you will. I was in a strange homesick mood and my glass felt more on the empty side. Diving into a chilly lake seemed like the only thing that would calm me. And it did.

You’d think starting my day off with a heaping pile of chocolate would have been enough, but sometimes a little touch of nature, the cold sensation of water, and a phone call to home… those are what it really takes to fill me.

And later that night after a shift of waitressing, and attempting to fill up my bank account, my friends and I went out for some drinks. Chipotle infused tequila, pear juice, and cilantro. It wasn’t orange juice, but my glass what definetely looking half full.


How do you cure a glass half empty kind of day? For me, it took a mound of chocolate, a soothing swim, a mall trip with my roommate, having a good shift at work, and a couple of drinks with friends. The glass is now back to overflowing.

Spicy Peanut Sweet Potato Fries

August 11, 2011

Small sweet pot-a-toe tied up in string…. this is one of my favorite things. Well, the string isn’t necessary I suppose. Just give me a yam and I’m happy.

One of my favorite snacks is a cold sweet potato (previously microwaved) slathered with peanut butter. Anyone else with me on the cold taters? The combination is perfection. But instead of being a lazy college student and microwaving yet another sweet potato for yet another 5 minutes, I decided to be domestic and make french fries. That counts as being domestic right?

And I’m glad I did. So happy. These are incredible.  So… when the dog bites or the bee stings or your feeling sad, just make these incredible fries and then you won’t feel soooo bad. (Sorry for the added syllable and general lack of rhythm. I promised food not musical talent.)

Spicy Peanut Sweet Potato Fries

  • 1 medium sweet potato
  • 1 Tbsp of butter, melted
  • I Tbsp Peanut Butter
  • 1 Tbsp of rice vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp of (GF) soy sauce–> look for gluten free tamari next to the soy sauces
  • Sprinkle of ginger, red pepper flakes, cayenne pepper, and salt–> all to taste!
  • Healthy pinch of brown sugar (could also use honey, other sweetener, or omit)
  • 1-2 Tbsp boiling water 
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. 
  2. Cut the ends of the sweet potato off. Then cut it into 3-4 planks going vertically. Line up 2 planks at a time and cut vertically again to make matchstick french fries. 
  3. Toss the fries with the melted butter until coated. 
  4. Combine all other the ingredients in a bowl and whisk while drizzling the hot water in until the sauce thins out to a thick dressing-like consistency. Pour onto the fries and cover evenly.
  5. Spread fries onto a parchment lined baking sheet (it gets messy) and place in the center rack for 40-50 minutes, stirring about halfway through. 
  6. Dip in plain yogurt (my choice), tahini, ketchup, honey mustard etc. 

The Gift of an Ordinary Day

August 10, 2011

My Mom had a book lying around the house a few years back called The Gift of an Ordinary Day. I couldn’t have read more than the back cover, but that title has always stuck with me. I had it on my mind yesterday as I went through my day, checking little things off my to-do list, sort of going through the motions yet present at the same time.

{A leisure morning of reading and work. Sizzling eggs and bacon; some cool coffee to wash it down. A bike ride. Catching up with my roommate while we made lunch side by side. Pedaling up the hill to work. Cruising back down for an evening to myself. A comforting dinner. An ordinary day. }

I was racking my brain for a post topic all day. Nothing I ate was noteworthy. I didn’t hike. No crafts or anything inspiring to take pictures of. I was stumped, and a little frustrated with myself. It’s like it hit me with a ton of bricks… my life is average.

That’s also when that book title popped into my head. And ideas began swirling. It’s funny how these creative moments are born. How they manifest out of nowhere or a seemingly insignificant moment of your past; a title of a book you never read.

A friend also recently told me a realization she had a while back; a good portion of life is pretty average. She said that once she came to accept this reality, everything sort of felt right.

The leisure mornings with warm coffee and a book suddenly became something to look forward to instead of a time thought as wasted. That comfort meal that’s been made a million times was no longer a food rut but rather a meal that held memories of home and family deep in its cheesy goodness.

My day-to-day life is pretty average. I like my coffee a certain way, my eggs not too runny, the same bike route, and catching up with my roommate about ordinary stuff.

Of course taking risks makes me feel alive. But I think you can take risks and live a simple, ordinary life at the same time. Its about finding meaning in those simple moments and piecing them together until they mean something way bigger.  The light that pours through my bedroom at 7pm and the infectious laughs of my friends radiating down the street is sometimes all I need as a reminder that an ordinary day is a gift. 

Not everyday is something to write blog about, and that’s alright with me.

You see, when I have children and need to be in ten places at once, I know I’ll look back on these moments and be thankful I was present. That I appreciated the slow days and the little things. And hopefully I’ll be digging some meaning out of those countless loads of laundry and tenth casserole dinner I’ll be making that month. It might be buried deep in that cheesy goodness, but I know it’ll be there.


What’s something in your daily routine that you find meaning in? Are you inspired by small things in your everyday life?

The Forbidden Fruit and My First DIY

August 9, 2011

So apparently there are poisonous nuts inside of peach pits. You would think this would be more widespread knowledge considering how popular peaches are and how poisonous poison is…

See that little seemingly harmless nut? After a quick google search I came to find out that very same seemingly harmless nut that was now in my stomach contained cyanide. Great.

Apparently they are called bitter almonds… you’d think something containing cyanide wouldn’t have such an average name.

But I’m fine. You need to ingest like a hundred to die. So I’ll stop cracking to the center of peach pits out of curiosity… and I guess I’ll stop eating unknown substances before a quick google search.

In other news I attempted one of my first DIY projects; a bed canopy.

Growing up I would have given my Barbie mobile for a bed canopy. Now, being all grown up, I can make these things I once wanted so dearly.

5 yards of fabric, some flower wire, string, lots of paper clips– yeah it’s not too sturdy.

And the new Bon Iver album that I’ve been gushing over for days to listen to.

It needs some tweaking, but I love feeling cocooned. I think my next project will be to make some pillows for my cocoon.


What’s the latest DIY project you’ve done? Would you have eaten the almond?

Shooting Outside My Comfort Zone

August 7, 2011

I’m not incredibly outgoing around strangers, and I tend to be much more of a listener than a talker. I feel safe asking questions, offering advice, and nodding my head in agreement. When I’m forced to be the one to speak about my life I get antsy and uncomfortable, as if, “Who really cares about what’s going on with me?”

Photography has been challenging me lately to speak up, tell more of my story, and share my life with others…

You see, the other day  I ventured downtown with my new lens in tow, with the intention of just taking some pretty shots of nature, maybe some buildings or other interesting architecture around me. Ones that didn’t challenge me. Safe shots.

But then I spotted this girl. And I waited and watched, pondering how I could get close enough with my fixed zoom lens without being “creepy”. Then she turned her face and I got this shot, and it felt good to stand my ground without shying away. I took a few more. It got easier. And then I was so concentrated on capturing her energy that I forgot I was clicking away at a complete stranger in the middle of the busiest street in the city.

I felt energized and excited about photography in that moment. Not because I got a perfect shot with the ‘right’ composition. Because I didn’t. And that’s okay. But because I was pushing myself out of my comfort zone.

Later in the week I went to our farmer’s market early in the day before any of my friends had woken. I knew I could get some pretty shots of produce… maybe some baguettes. The usual farmer’s market fare. Safe subjects that I could capture from a distance.

Then I remembered how good it felt to take a risk. So I started asking people if I could take some shots of their products and samples and hear their stories’.

And when they asked me mine, I was proud to say I write a blog. And that I love photography. And good food. That I’m a student and this is just a hobby. It felt good to tell a piece of my story too.

I spotted these girls sharing food and making art, and I loved the moment that they were having. So I took a shot from behind. And that was safe.

So I walked around front and asked if I could take a picture of their food because it told a story. I love the paint splattered hands and the incredible array of breakfast foods. And I told them that. It felt good to speak up.

None of my pictures are the perfect exposure, breathtaking depth of field or composition. But they all challenged me. Not only to capture new kinds of subjects and moments, but to speak up.

Tell a bit of my story. Meet new people. And listen to bits of their’s.


Have you taken on any personal challenges lately? Pushed yourself to grow? Learned something new about yourself through a hobby or experience? Please share!


Grain and Sugar Free Banana Walnut Bread

August 5, 2011

Yesterday my new 35mm f/2 lens came in the mail and I jumped up and down with joy. I’ve ordered it from 3 different places, and canceled each after finding out it was on back order, so I’ve been waiting a long time. So after tearing it open (and by tearing I mean gingerly removing the package) I practiced a little inside with some subjects around the house…

And then I ventured downtown where there were plenty of more interesting subject than turnips…

She was loving life, and I was loving capturing the moment. I edited those both using Picasa and the cinema scope and 1960’s filters respectively. I love the grainy, faded look of those filters.


So with my new lens raring to go, I felt the immediate itch to bake. But it was too dark out to take some good shots so I waited until the next morning. After brainstorming some ideas, I decided to go with a grain free bread that I could enjoy for breakfast and snacks over the next few days.


My goal for this bread was to keep it (added) sugar free, gluten free, but not free of taste and satiety! I definetely succeeded in all three of those with this beauty…

Grain and Sugar Free Banana Walnut Bread

This bread is free of grains and added sugars. It came out incredibly moist, and just perfectly sweet from the ripeness of the banana. Makes about 6-8 slices. 

  • 1/2 cup coconut flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 ripe banana
  • 2 dates
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil (I used refined, so it doesn’t have the coconutty flavor. You could also sub butter)
  • splash of vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup whole milk plain yogurt
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1/3 cup walnuts

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Add coconut flour, baking soda, salt, and walnuts in a bowl.

In a food processor combine the banana and dates until smooth. To the banana mixture add 6 whisked eggs, vanilla, coconut oil, yogurt, and milk. Mix the wet ingredients really well. (I actually used the food processor to fully mix them together because the coconut oil hardened and wouldn’t mix well by hand). 

Add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix well. 

Pour into a small loaf pan that has been liberally coated with coconut oil. 

Bake for 50 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool for 15 minutes. Slice and enjoy!


What is your favorite flour to bake with? Whole wheat? spelt? Teff? There are so many! I really enjoy usuing coconut flour because it doesn’t usually need the help of other flours to hold it together (just tons of eggs!), and it has a deliciously mild coconutty flavor.

Tabata Sprints and Streamlining Work Outs

August 4, 2011

My younger brother enlisted in the marines this past spring and will be shipping off to Paris Island in Janurary for boot camp. He’s been whipping himself into shape to prepare, with the knowledge that he can probably never be fully ready for what he will go through.

So when I was home last week I decided to do him the kind favor of kicking his butt down at the track with a quick, painful sprinting workout. Your welcome Matty!

I’ve been reading about high intensity interval training (HIIT) and Tabata sprints for some time but hadn’t given them a try until the other day. I really do love a good challenge, and don’t necessarily hate the pain of pushing myself to exhaustion, so once a week I’ve been doing stair sprints or hill sprints, but Tabata sprinting is a bit different… in the worst best way possible.

We jogged a half mile to the track and began the workout, which sounds MUCH easier than it actually was…

20 seconds of maximum all out sprinting followed by 10 second rest.

Repeat for 8 repetitions and a total of 4 minutes. You can do more than one cycle but we were spent. Instead we finished up with some body weight exercises and jogging.

A 4 minute workout that will bring you near puking! I never once was near puking during marathon training (except the 4 hours post race- the most nauseous I’ve ever been). 


I’m starting to realize that working out does not need to take over one’s life to be effective. Training was practically a part time job last year, and I’m honestly glad to be in the next phase of my athletic pursuits. I went from 2 hour runs to 4 minute sprints and couldn’t be more content.


Lately my typical routine has consisted of biking everywhere I go, an occasional longer bike ride, 2 full body strength sessions outdoors, and one day of sprinting. Nothing else. Less than 3 hours of dedicated exercise a week coupled with lifestyle movement is all I need. I’ve loved not being tied down to a training regimen and having the freedom to experiment with fun kinds of fitness!


How many hours a week do you consciously workout? Have you ever streamlined your workouts or anything else in your life?

9 Do’s and 1 Don’t for Bacon Grease

August 3, 2011

There are few better smelling things in the world than bacon frying up on a Sunday morning… and one of them is garlic sauteeing in bacon grease on a Tuesday evening… but that’s besides the point.


Oh wait, no its not…. this post is entirely about all things good in the world that result from a little bacon grease love.


When I arrived home last week, my younger brother proudly boasted that there was some thick center cut bacon waiting for me in the fridge, and that he had saved the bacon grease for ‘other stuff’. (I’ve taught him well.) But as we pondered what ‘other stuff’ to use said bacon grease for, I figured others may have a similar dilemma. Although a container of bacon grease is hardly a dilemma if you ask me…


If you’ve ever cooked up bacon you know that quite a bit of grease is created, and this is commonly something people save for later use. In fact you may have grown up in a home that kept the renderings in a tin Folgers can on the stove top. We didn’t, but no time like the present to start traditions.


Bacon grease keeps practically indefinitely in the fridge, and if you eat enough bacon (me! me!) it can accumulate quickly… p.s. it’s the same calories as olive oil if your counting, but in my opinion adds worlds more flavor. And if your eating bacon, well then you’re probably not counting calories in the first place.

So here you go, if you’re having the same ‘dilemma’ that we were… 9 Do’s and 1 Don’t for Bacon Grease

Fry eggs in it. They crisp up perfectly and hold a hint of smoky flavor.

Drizzle over popcorn and add some smoked paprika or cayenne pepper.

Roast sweet potato fries in it for a perfect crispy texture.

Add a spoonful to homemade dressings.

Use as part of the oil for a mean chex mix. (Great way to make friends at a party)

Mix some into pasta or rice and add veggies or cheese as an alternative to butter.

Season your cast iron skillet with it. Just don’t tell the vegetarians why that veggie stir fry tasted so good…

On that note, sauté up or roast veggies in it.

Rub on chicken or other meat before grilling or baking for a depth of flavor.

Whatever you do, don’t throw it down the drain. Oh an also don’t pour it piping hot into a plastic container….



Do you save bacon grease? How have you used it in cooking before?

Light Painting

August 2, 2011

Something I love about photography is the ability to make art that the human eye cannot create alone. Sometimes I get frustrated that those cookies I just baked look so much better in person than they are appearing on my camera. But other times I am pleasantly surprised by how my camera can capture a certain moment in time, a perfect pocket of beaming light, or an emotion on one’s face that I wouldn’t have seen otherwise.


One camera technique that I’m always pleasantly surprised with how pictures turn out are long exposures. Many people use long exposures and tripods to get stunning shots of nature when light is low. But it can also be used in a fun way to create trails of lights from fireworks, cars wizzing through city streets, or my new favorite: light painting.

I’m actually a piro-phobiac…but in the name of taking some cool shots I decided to tag along with my brothers as they took their homemade torch down to the beach to have some fun. Who makes homemade torches? Yeah I was thinking the same thing…

I am not condoning this behavior, but it does make for a great opportunity for a budding photgrapher to test out some different settings. So next time your siblings or friends put together a flaming torch, make sure you’ve grabbed your camera first.

On manuel mode I dialed the shutter speed to the slowest option; BULB. This option allows you to hold the shutter down for as long as you want the exposure to last. Tripods always help with long exposures, but I wasn’t about to lug my (non- existent) tripod to the beach for a of couple shots.

So as my brothers swooshed and swirled the lit torch around their bodies, I kept quite the distance holding down the shutter for a couple seconds to let in fun traces of light. This was not a time for shaky hands, so I sat down and used my elbows resting on my knees as a stand- in tripod.

Okay, I lied I didn’t keep my distance the whole time. I had to give it a swirl. I was more concerned about my brother handling my camera next to the rushing ocean than I was about a flame circling my head…

One of my other favorite long exposure shots…


What’s your favorite thing to take photos of? Have you ever tried slowing down your shutter speed for a certain shot?