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13 Miles Out

August 1, 2011

I had a beautiful weekend with friends, visiting the tiny island I called home for the past three summers.
But life sure is different 13 miles out…

A typical summer job is nannying children at the beach day in and day out. Yes, I’m jealous of her life. Although it was eye opening; seeing how difficult just getting out the door was with children under the age of 9.

13 miles out… there is the best sushi I’ve ever eaten. Freshly grilled swordfish, spicy red pepper, scallions, avocado.

There is barely a sense of time when your distracted by this view and best friends to dine with.

The sunsets are fierce and burn in the sky.

Margaritas are sipped anytime, as it always seems to be 5 o’ clock.

And dancing into the morning is the only competitive sport around.

Beach days are drawn out into the evenings until the sand cools off and you can make it back to the car without burning your feet.

Riding in the back of pickup trucks is a preferred mode of transportation.

And the pace of life is slow.


I miss that island dearly, and it’s strange how life just ticks on when your away. Work to catch up on, gas tanks to fill, and groceries to be bought. Back to Vermont tomorrow!


Where is your ‘happy place’? Where no matter what’s going on in life you can escape to and not have a care in the world.

Home Means…

July 28, 2011
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Home means being trampled greeted by this lovebug every time I step through the door…

Oh wait…

There, that’s more like it.

Home means laughing hysterically with these kids throughout the day, and being thankful I get to see them more than once a year now…

Home means free food. Sorry Mom I mean, food that has been so graciously worked hard for and thoughtfully purchased to my liking.

Home means the beach. The beach soothes me, and I never want to live more than a drive away…

Home means getting together with friends, air conditioning (!), free laundry, comfort, quiet mornings, a break, and love. And it also means I finally have my camera back!


What does home mean for you?

Crispy Air and Crispy Homefries

July 27, 2011



Sundays are my favorite day of the week currently. Most of my friends have the day off and we have been making a routine out of treating ourselves to a leisurely brunch (2pm counts as brunch still right?) followed by some outdoor fun. This past Sunday was no exception.


We had some extra visitors for the weekend, so Sunday afternoon we gathered the troops for a beautiful walk in the crisp air (relative to the past few days of oppressive humidity) downtown to Magnolia’s Bistro, my favorite restaurant in Burlington.


By 1pm we finally sat down to some deeeeelicious food. Apple, sausage, cheddar omelet, crispy homefries, and GF(!) toast for me. I love that many restaurants are beginning to carry gluten free substitutes that don’t taste awful!


Later, three of my friends, our dog, and myself went for a quick hike up a nearby mountain. My Mom said the picture looks like wine country. I wouldn’t know, but it was one of the prettier views of the hikes we have gone on. Ilovermont.


We basked in the late afternoon sun at the peak for a long time. It was so nice to slow down. And yes, I wear pretty much the same outfit every time I hike if you were going to ask…


I’ll be driving home later this afternoon for the rest of the week. I’ll finally be getting my camera charger and all the other long lost items from the abandoned vehicle back. I’ve been itching to take pictures with lots of new props, some photo editing software on its way, and an exciting potential job/project for the fall!


Do you have a certain day of the week you set aside for simple fun and leisure meals?

How to Eat (Gluten Free) for 2 Dollars a Day

July 26, 2011

When my brother lived in Prague for a few months last year he often went days only eating rice, as he spent his last dollars on traveling through Europe and dodging a few near death experiences… This makes it sound like he’s a neglected child but that’s really not the case, he can just make do with very little and doesn’t mind a good stroke of hunger every now and then. He was also the same brother who challenged my younger brother to fast for 7 days to prove he could handle Marine training.

{So happy for food…}

My brothers are a little radical, but they both survived these stunts of hunger and even said they felt great after the initial 3 days of intense fatigue and headaches. Sure.


Now I’m not about to tell you I’ve been living on only eggs for a week (although that’s not far from the truth), but I did give myself a bit of a challenge over the past few days…


Sine I’ll be leaving Wednesday morning to drive home for jury duty, I’ve put off buying groceries for about 4 days. It doesn’t sound like a long time until you realize thats 12 meals and all you have is some tuna and some frozen vegetables.


But I like a good challenge. It must run in the family.


Of course there was that lovely Sunday brunch out with friends…..oh yeah and going out for (half priced!) burgers the night before. But other than that I’ve been roughing it, and have had to get a little creative in the process.




How to Eat (Gluten Free) for 2 Dollars a Day  

  • Meal 1: 3 Eggs cooked in butter, lots of brown rice, coffee ($.40 cents)
  • Meal 2: Can of tuna with mustard, frozen broccoli cooked in butter, spoonfuls of tahini until satisfied ($1.20)
  • Meal 3: 3 Eggs cooked in butter, more frozen vegetables, lots of brown rice ($.50 cents)
  • Meal 4: Soft serve with sprinkles from your roommate who works at an ice cream shop. (Priceless… literally)

The key here is butter. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, everything tastes better with butter. And it’ll keep you more satisfied. Maybe it’ll even distract you from missing that whole avocado and dark chocolate you can’t seem to go a day without… oh wait, just me?


*Not recommended unless your traveling around Europe, trying to prove something to your cool older brother, or are just too cheap to go grocery shopping. With that said, I’m looking forward to a few hearty (free) meals at home.


Have you ever had to ration food or go hungry for an extended period of time? 

Dreadlocks and Duck Fat and Strangeness Oh My!

July 25, 2011
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When Alex posted about what makes her strange, I knew I had some blog worthy qualities that would make for a quirky list myself. So here’s more than you needed or wanted to know about me…


{ I’m strange because I’m bi-uvulatic. You know that hangy thing in the back of your throat? Yeah, I have two…. I’ve never met anyone else with two and I’m not sure if it affects me but it’s there. (Don’t have a picture for that one… probably a good thing)}

{I’m strange because I had a single dread lock for a year and had to cut it out last spring because it was taking over my hair. The hair still growing back…}


.{Speaking of hair, I’m now going on 1 month of no shampoo… I think that makes me strange. }



{I eat unsweetened baking chocolate for breakfast, snacks, and dessert. Usually more than once in a day. Expensive habits die hard. }


{I once was a vegetarian for 2.5 years but now I love bacon and cook with duck fat. Expensive habits part two. }


{ I actually had a blast running a marathon, and I do hill repeats for fun sometimes. Emphasis on the sometimes. }


{I brush my teeth in the shower. I choose my bike over my car. I can put back 18 eggs in a week. And I eat gluten free!}


Why are you strange?


 And more importantly…


If you haven’t already done so, head over to Meals and Moves to bid on some amazing items to support Susan with her fight to beat cancer. So many bloggers and companies have come together for a pretty amazing fundraising effort, and bidding started this morning (Monday)! I have my eye on quite a few yummy items.

Chai Tahini Smoothie

July 22, 2011

I frolicked around town on my bike yesterday searching for fun props and kitchen gadgets to help me take more interesting photos. I was well equipped with a fun candy striped straw (thanks to a lovely lady at Williamm Sonoma for giving me a free one instead of buying a pack of 80 that I would never use), a new mason jar, linens and placemats galore, and a recipe I thought would make for a divine smoothie…


And I was right, it was a divine smoothie. I was particularly proud because I’m normally awful at putting together a half decent tasting smoothie that isn’t the shade of mud. Somehow all of my smoothies end up the shade of mud. But I stuck to one color palate for this one, and the tastes blended together wonderfully!


However, as I set the scene just right to capture the smoothie in all it’s glory, my camera died. That wouldn’t normally be a problem but my charger is in my brother’s car, which died on our voyage to Mt. Washington, and remains sitting in a random tow lot 3 hours from civilization. So… it might be a while before I put some of my new skills (via Plate to Pixel) to use.


I did manage to get one picture, and I decided to share it anyways because it’s not really about capturing the perfect picture, it’s more about sharing a delicious recipe. Plus I had to document the fact that this smoothie was appealing to the both the taste buds and the eyes for once.

Chai Tahini Smoothie

  • 1 frozen banana
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk (or another kind of milk)
  • 2 Tbsp Tahini**
  • 3 Tbsp concentrated chai tea
  • 4-5 ice cubes
  • 1 Tbsp chia seeds (optional)
  • Dash of cinnamon and vanilla extract 

Steep a bag of chai tea in 2-3 Tbsp of boiling water to make a concentrated tea.

Add all ingredients (including tea) in a blender and blend until combined.

**If you do not like an over powering taste of tahini you can replace one or both of the tablespoons with almond butter or another nut butter.


P.S. I’ve spent the last few hours securing and forwarding my blog to a new domain! is now what you’ll see up there ^ in the URL bar. Keep that in mind if your searching for my blog now:)


I need some smoothie inspiration! What is the most random ingredient you have thrown into a smoothie that ended up tasting great?

How to Choose a Lens for SLR Cameras

July 21, 2011

After reading a dizzying amount of reviews and tutorials on different camera lenses, I knew others may have similar questions and concerns about choosing a lens that I had. So here is a summary of what I learned, although it’s mostly just the basics to get you going in the right direction.

What Kind of Photography are You Into?

Close-ups, food, landscape, portraits, sports… the list goes on. Determine what you wish to use your lens for the most and keep reading to figure out what lens will fit your needs.


{Clearly we know what I prefer to take pictures of. But my current 18-55mm lens can do a lot more than just food close ups….}

Picking a Focal Length

If you’ve looked into lenses before, or are just getting started, you’ll notice different numbers, or ranges of numbers before the abbreviation mm. For example, right now I shoot with an 18-55mm lens. These numbers refer to the focal length.

This number dictates how wide of an image the lens will capture. 50mm is comparable to the human eye and is a good place to start if your going to be taking a wide variety of shots, anything less is considered a wide angled lens and anything more is considered a telephoto lens.

The lower the number (such as 35mm) the wider the angle and more of a scene you can capture. For example you would use a wide angled lens to capture a vast landscape of a large group of people.

The higher the number (such as 200mm) the more narrow the angle and less of a scene will appear in your shot. This is good for capturing detail from further away and great for sports, portraits, and details of nature.



Fixed vs. Zoom Lens

You can buy a lens with a fixed focal length (such as 35mm) or one with a zoom range (such as 18-55mm). Zoom lenses are convenient for getting a variety of shots and everyday photography, but usually produce a lesser quality image than a fixed lens. Of course there are very expensive zoom lenses that are top quality, but as a general rule of thumb fixed lenses can let in more light and perform better.

You can find wide angled zooms (15-35mm), telephoto zooms (100-300mm) or more of a mix (such as 24-70mm).


{My zoom lens can reach a variety of focal lengths…}


Picking an Aperture

The next number (or two numbers on a zoom lens) you’ll see is the widest aperture or range of apertures that the lens can ahceive. For example my current lens is an 18-55mm f3.5- 5.6. This range tells me the widest or maximum aperture that the lens is capable of at each end of the zoom. So when the focal length is positioned to 18mm my lens can reach a 3.5 aperture at the widest and when it is positioned to 55mm, my lens can only acheive an aperture of 5.6 at the widest. Some high quality zoom lenses can still have a fixed aperture such as 17-55mm f2.8.

Generally a lower f number (meaning a wider aperture) is a higher quality lens. A lower number also means a faster lens that can capture better images in lower light situations.  A lower f number also means you can achieve a more blurry background. Now you can see why a low number translates to a higher quality lens.

I just purchased a 35mm f/2 which is an upgrade of aperture from my current f/2.8-5.6. This will help me shoot pictures when the lighting is not always adequate and will allow me to achieve more blurred backgrounds behind my subjects.


{See the wide aperture and blurred background that my lens can achieve. (f/3.5). My lens can also achieve a wide angled landscape view with a smaller aperture (f/16). }



If your looking to shoot ultra close ups of certain subjects such as insects or nature, you may want to consider a macro lens. They are usually between 50 and 100mm in focal length which can capture more detail and allows you to get closer to the subject.


What Camera Body Do You Have?

You must purchase a lens that is manufactured by the same brand as your camera body. If you shoot with a Nikon you must buy a Nikon lens and so on. Only the same brand lens will be able to mount on to your camera body except for a few third party lens manufactures. But to keep things simple you should stick with the same brand.



 Putting It All Together

Are you looking for a convenient lens that you can use for a variety of pictures? Start at a 50mm and consider buying a zoom lens so you can achieve a variety of focal lengths and detail.

Are you looking to take ultra close-ups or nature, bugs, or food? Consider a longer focal length to capture more detail, and a wide aperture (lower number) to achieve that blurred background look (narrow depth of field).

Are you looking to take vast landscape photography? Look for a wide angled lens, such at 28mm or lower to capture a wide image. A wide aperture is not as important with taking full landscape pictures.

Finally, consider your price range because lenses can get upwards of $2000. You can also find quality lenses for much less. Do your homework, go to a local camera shop, test out different models, and make an informed decision!

When my new 35mm f/2 lens arrives I will do a full review and comparison shots to put some of this knowledge to practice!


What is your favorite kind of photography to take or look at? If you shoot with an SLR camera, what lens do you use?

How To Go ‘Poo-Less’

July 20, 2011

That’s shampoo less…

It all started nearly a month ago. I can’t remember how I came across an article about going poo-less, but I decided then and there I would give it an effort with nothing to lose but my frizzy unruly locks of love.


Thats sort of exaggerating, I’ve always liked my hair. But after reading several accounts of how ditching shampoo (and conditioner) made one’s hair more natural and controlled looking, I was sold.


So I stopped cold turkey. It wasn’t that hard really, just quit using the suds. Your scalp will slowly stop producing as much oil because your not drying it out with harsh detergents (shampoo is a detergent and dries out the scalp).


Since then I’ve done maybe 4 baking soda and apple cider vinegar cleanses:

  • Mix 1 Tbsp baking soda in a cup of water and stir well. Apply about half of this mixture directly your scalp and work in for a minute or two. Rinse clean. This washes away any build up.
  • Pour a bit of ACV into the palm of your hand and work through the ends of your hair. Rinse clean. This untangles your roots. I do this step about every other day now just to keep things smoothed out.
  • So Simple. I’ve repeated this about once a week.


I’ve stopped using mousse, which was my life savior before going poo-less. I’ve had multiple compliments over the past few weeks about my hair being curlier and more natural looking. I don’t think I’ll ever turn back.


Call me a dirty hippy but it works.


Would you be brave enough to give up shampoo? 

Taking Butter Into My Own Hands

July 18, 2011

I found myself eggless and butterless this morning, and lost as a blind bat without my favorite dynamic duo. So what’s a girl in the 21st century to do when she’s faced with such a predicament? Churn her own of course! (and run to the store for eggs…)


I’ve been meaning to try it out for a while now after seeing it on this wonderful blog, so no time like the present day to churn some good old fashion salted butter.


A pint of heavy whipping cream. Two sealing jars. A pair of biceps. Some salt and herbs if desired. Simple simple…


I poured half of the whipping cream in each jar and shook for a couple minutes until I felt the liquid firm into a whipped cream. Add a bit of sugar now to make whipped cream, but I wanted to take it a step further.


Scoop out the cream in a deep bowl and with an electric or standing mixer, mix until the whey separates from the solid butter (which happens quickly). If your incredibly smart like I am, you can use a shallow bowl so that whey splatters across half your kitchen and beyond. Just a warning.


Drain out the liquid and voila, homemade butter! Add a bit of salt and any other spices you like.

I made honey, garlic, tarragon, and salted butter.


I would say that this was so much fun that I’ll never buy butter again, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact it was more expensive than just buying the sticks, and obviously more time intensive. But once in a while it is fun to roll up my sleeves and take matters butter into my own hands.


What’s something you prefer homemade over store-bought despite the time and effort it takes?

This Weekend I…

July 17, 2011

Waitressed for 21 hours. Whew.

{Purchased this book, and read it in the sunshine. I also purchased something else exciting to help me put my new learnings to use, but that will be a whole other post when it arrives.}

{Went to brunch at a greasy spoon diner straight out of the 50’s. No frills- just eggs, kinda place. }

{Enjoyed the pure and freeing fun of swinging on swings in the park with friends. Floating. Practiced my photography too.}

{Deserved and drank a few of these.}

{Cooked okra for the first time. Ignore my attempt at a southern corn meal coating. Fail. Yet surprisingly tasty.}


I’d say I stepped out of my comfort zone at least a couple times. What did you do this weekend?