Wednesday, January 18, 2012

One year later... And Photography!?!

Well, almost a year later, and I'm finally posting again!  Last year was a whirlwind, and suddenly it's January again!  :)  More to come on that...  Anyway, this post is specific to my latest adventure, a photography course!  My primary goal was to improve my ability to take meaningful pictures of my kids (and find a way to soak in and remember every moment!), but I also hope to apply what I'm learning to my Etsy photos.  Because let's face it, as hard as I try, my pictures are not the best!

My wonderful husband bought me my first dslr camera for Christmas - a Rebel T3!  I was so excited, and immediately signed up for Ashley Ann's photography course.  I've been a long time reader of her blog, and really admire her talent!  I realize I'll never be at THAT level, but I hope to soak in some of her secrets from the course!  ;)  For our first homework assignment, we were to practice the elements of composition and story-telling.  I'm still only in automatic mode, but already I see changes in the photos I took.  I have no doubt, there is still far more wrong with these than there is right, but I'm just excited to be able to "see" them differently!  I see the problems, and I can even pick out a few good things...  I didn't crop any of these, but just posted as is...

The lighting in my house is not the best...  Dark walls make natural light photos hard, but I do love this one!  Toy cars driving over all living room furniture is a daily occurrence!

Not the best look on B's face, but I like the arching lines of climbing toy in this one...

 Off into the woods.  Trying to follow the rule of thirds...

All kinds of problems with mergers in the next two, but I like the angle of the shots.  However, something about where I cropped B bothers me...  Not sure if I should have included more or less of him?

Again, not the best look on B's face, but like the framing.  Not sure if the framing should have been centered (like a narrowing bridge)?

Just another fun one.  I liked the movement of this one, and the idea that you can see where he's going...

Still working on the rule of thirds...

Friday, February 25, 2011

99 Sales on the Wall

It's a milestone for LeytonSmiles - ALMOST!  Currently at 99 sales, and I'm offering something fun for my 100th sale - free shipping!  I'll refund my 100th sale the price of shipping paid.  So hurry on in and buy that item you've had your eye on - free shipping could be yours!  ;)

Happy weekend everyone!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Comfort Food

As the roads continue to clear (we made it to Starbucks this morning - and that's HUGE in my book), I continue Bakefest 2011.  :) Today's menu - Banana bread!  I had a handful of very ripe bananas, which my kids absolutely won't touch if they even have a spot of brown on them, so I thought this would be a great way to use them up.  This recipe came from my friend Katie, but I believe it's actually a Martha Stewart recipe.  Definitely a keeper! 

Banana Bread (makes 1 loaf)

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, at room temperature, plus more for pan
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups unbleached flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup mashed very ripe bananas
(which is about 3 bananas)
1/2 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9-by-5-by-3-inch loaf pan; set aside. In an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, and beat to incorporate.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt. Add to the butter mixture, and mix until just combined. Add bananas, sour cream, and vanilla; mix to combine. Stir in nuts, and pour into prepared pan.
Bake until a cake tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, about 1 hour 10 minutes. Let rest in pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a rack to cool.

A few notes from my experience with this recipe - I've made it twice now, and both times I reduced the cooking time to an hour.   I also lightly covered it (just "tented") with foil about halfway through so the top wouldn't get too dark.  Last, I leave out the nuts, but that's just a personal preference.  :)  Enjoy!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Pineapple Yumminess

The one benefit to our current blizzard situation: With all this snow, I've had plenty of time to cook!  For a SuperBowl party we attended, I made this Pineapple Cake, and it was a hit!  I can't take credit for the recipe - it came from a friend's Mom, and oh my.  It's wonderful.  I could eat the whole thing myself if left alone with it for too long...

Pineapple Cake
White or yellow cake mix - add regular ingredients as indicated on box
Add small can of crushed pineapple (with liquid)
1 cup pecans (I used 1/2 cup because we aren't huge pecan people)
1/2 cup coconut (toasted in oven)
Bake as indicated on box; (mine took a few extra minutes).

Make cream cheese frosting using 4 oz cream cheese, 1 stick of butter, 1 tsp vanilla
and mix with 1 box (1 pound) powdered sugar. Add a few teaspoons milk
if needed for spreading consistency. Optional: Sprinkle (toasted or not) coconut and toasted pecans on top

Enjoy!  If you make it, I'd love to hear how it turned out for you!

Friday, February 4, 2011

It's -6 degrees. How about some ice cream?!?

Snow ice cream that is...  ;)  Currently, this is the view outside my front door...  I was a little afraid to even open the door - I didn't exactly want to be run over by a drift, fun as that sounds.  We are all getting a bit stir-crazy as this is day four of my car not leaving the garage...  Oklahoma is just not equipped to handle 16 inches of snow at once, and we are expecting a few more today.  I'm considering fashioning my own version of a snow plow to the front of my Honda and venturing out - call it a omg-I-am-losing-my-mind 'mental health' mission.  Ok, not really.  But only because I have nothing that would actually work as a snow plow.  :)

I remember making this when I was little with a friend, but of course that recipe is long gone.  Here's one my family will be trying today, courtesy of Paula Dean and the food network.  And don't worry, we'll avoid the snow with tracks in it - not exactly sure what creature made those, and I don't think I want to know...

You need:
8 cups of snow or shaved ice
1 (14 oz) can sweetened condensed milk
1 tsp vanilla extract

Place snow or shaved ice into a large bowl. Pour condensed milk over and add vanilla. Mix to combine. Serve immediately.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Germ Fest

Probably my least favorite part of parenting is when my kids are ill.  It truly is terrible - no matter what's wrong.  You agonize over how to make them feel better, and feel incredibly helpless because you can't fix it by just snapping your fingers.  I really. really. really. hate. it. 

Leyton, the namesake for my Etsy shop, is sick.  And I mean really sick.  Big Brother Britton had the flu AND croup this past weekend (even with a flu shot), and apparently Leyton has picked up the croup piece of that fun little duo.  4 days later, 2 visits to the doctor, steroids, and we are NOT much better.  Oh my goodness how long is this going to hang on?!?  I realize it's January - and they are going to get sick at some point.  But I'm over it at this point.  I'm really for healthy Leyton again!  Poor baby.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

A little fun for your Wednesday

I admit, I'm not really a romance reader.  And let's face it, these days with two small children I'm lucky if I get to read anything more than the daily reports they bring home from school and their bedtime stories.  However, I do try to catch up on my favorite blogs on lunch occasionally, and this is one I'm addicted to.  She's not only absolutely hysterical, but very real.  She's honest, intelligent, and makes me realize we all deal with similar things as moms to little ones. 

She's now drafted a romance novel, "Union Pacific," and is publishing one chapter a week (on Fridays) here.  Let me just say, it's FABULOUS.  A quick, fun read, and now I'm hooked.  Seriously, check it out.