Friday, December 31, 2010

2010 To "Do" List Warp-Up

I started out 2010 with my one little word to live by: “Do.” My list of things that I wanted to do in 2010 was pretty intense, but overall, I think I did pretty darn good. In honor of the close of the year, here is my wrap up of what I as able to ‘Do”:

* Learn something new - I am not so sure I learned something new every week, but I did stick to the list and learned a bit more of sign language, took a class on using my sewing machine, not only learned how to quilt, but completed one, and also took my camera out more and started reading the manual.

* Try new recipes – Maybe not one a month, but here is a list of the new recipes I did make this year: French onion Soup, Chicken Picata, Twice Baked Potatoes, Truly the Best Frosting I Have Ever Tasted, Chicken Fried Steak (from her book, but the Round Steak recipe found here is close), The yummiest Mashed Potatoes I Have Ever Tasted , Friend Mozzarella Sticks, Butter Toffee, Creamy Pesto Chicken (I forget where I got this recipe), A delicious pulled pork with apple cider vinegar (I can’t remember where this one was from either), and even though I have eaten plenty of it, I have never made it myself, so I count my Mother-in-Law’s Rocky Road candy. My crowning achievement of the year was learning how to properly make gravy for the very first time! I was SO proud when the gravy actually came out the right consistency (and tasted good too)! So, though they may not have been one per month, I did make at least 12 new recipes this year!

I have found new love for my kitchen after cooking all of this yumminess. I was not disappointed in a single recipe. In honor of my new found love, Santa was very good to me this year and brought me lots of new kitchen gadgets to try out next year. I think I will continue this part of my to “Do” list for years to come.

* Read more – Though I didn’t necessarily get through a lot of classics I have not read before, I did get through a lot of books. I joined a book club and the first four months I have been to during 2010 involved Jane Austen classics that I have ready over and over already. But I read them again for the meetup and got a refresher, so I count them! The books I did read this year were: Classics: Daniel Deronda , The House of Mirth, Dangerous Liaisons, Pride and Prejudice (re-read), Mansfield Park (re-read), Sense and Sensibility (re-read), and Emma (re-read). Modern: Eat, Pray, Love, The Help, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played with Fire, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest.

I also consider it a pretty big accomplishment that I decided to tackled Clarissa this year, of which, I am about half way through. It really must be THE longest book in the world and something like 8000 pages. I am determined to finish this one soon. Not that it's bad, it just is really really really LONG.

* Take more pictures
- I think I had the hardest time with this one this year. Although I did have a LOT more camera clicks this year because I went to a lot of model events, and did start a business which actually brought in some paying photography jobs, I found that I am not pulling out my camera for the everyday stuff I was hoping to capture. My hope is that everyone gets so used to me carrying it around with me everywhere that it becomes part of me. A friend I don’t see very often saw me earlier this year at an event and said hello to me in passing when I arrived. I came back later with my camera and he said “Oh there you are! It was hard to recognize you at first without your camera.” That’s who I want to be all the time!

* Move more – Another tough one. Although I did not establish any regular routine, I do take the dog out for a walk more often after work now. I did walk a gazzilion miles while on vacation on the East Coast (especially New York, and I did lose 20 pounds over the course of the year and have managed to keep it off through the holidays, EVEN with the all the awesome cooking going on in my household (refer above).

So goodbye to 2010. I believe I checked off quite a bit from my to “Do” list. Now I have to think of a new word for 2011 in the next few hours!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Hello December...

Hello to December
Hello to waking up to 32 degree weather
Hello to 15 minute defrost delays in the car every morning
Hello to yummy Peppermint Hot Chocolates
Hello to the holidays
Hello to my welcome friend!

Monday, November 15, 2010

To December Daily or not....AGAIN???

My debate continues this year as it did last year... to December Daily or not to December Daily? I think I am ready. Lord knows I have collected enough holiday themed scrapbook items to create them for the rest of my life! But it is a bit of commitment during what is already a crazy time.

So in order to try and get myself motivated, I FINALLY took detailed photos of the one I created in 2008. They are posted Here on Flickr

And for even further inspiration, even though I decided not to tackle a December Daily last year, I still had tons of photos I wanted to scrap and felt the need to at least make a mini album out of them. So without further ado, my semi-December not so Daily of 2009 (More appropriately titled "December Celebrations":

Saturday, October 9, 2010

More Photos from the Pumpkin Patch

From our annual visit to the Bishop's Pumpkin Patch.

This is the reaction I get every time she sees me!


First a visit to the petting zoo

Talking to the cows... Moooooo!

And on to the bouncy area.

Next to the play area

And finally to the pumpkins

I love how she kept trying to pick up the really big ones!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

One Year Later....

Apparently I have been a disappointing blogger lately. If you couldn't tell from the fact that it's been six months since my last post, much to my sister's dismay. So this one's for you Melanie.

We went to the Bishop's Pumpkin patch again this year. It's amazing to see what a difference a year can make.

Just one year later and she is looking so grown up already.

Hopefully I can get back in to blogging soon. It forces me to actually correct my photos and get them posted so they don't keep sitting on my hard drive collecting digital dust.

Monday, April 12, 2010

February Update - 2010 To "Do" List

Way, way behind, but it's the thought that counts!

New Recipe -

Another Pioneer Woman recipe from her blog. This time it was something I have sadly never tasted the deliciousness of before. Her Twice Baked Potatoes recipe is to die for. I can't believe I have never had these before. I am a fan of the potato and this was one I have definitely been missing. Here is the outcome:

So one thing I learned when going back through these photos is 1. I need better lighting in my kitchen (thankfully the hubby already fixed that for me) and 2. I need to learn how to take better food photos (Unfortunately, hubby can't really fix that one for me!)

These yummy potatoes were my Valentine's Day dinner surprise for that awesome hubby o' mine. To go with them is my secret recipe baby back ribs. Ok, maybe not so secret since I am going to post the recipe here:

Oven Baked Baby Back Ribs

1 tbs salt
1 tbs freshly ground or crushed black pepper
2 tbs sugar
2 1/2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp chili powder
1 1/2 tbs paprika

This is plenty o' rub for two full racks. Mix the ingredients above in a small bowl and sprinkle both sides of the rib racks generously with mixture. I usually get pretty dirty and actually rub the mixture into the meat, but your level of contact is up to you! Let the seasoning sit on there as long as possible (a few hours if you got it!). Preheat the oven to 300 and bake for about 2 hours. When done baking, turn on the broiler (or turn your oven up as high as it goes) and pop those suckers right under the heat for about five minutes or until they get a little crisp outside. And viola! Ribs are done.

** NOTE** The secret to making this rub work is the pairing of the BBQ sauce. It works best with a sweet sauce. Our personal favorite is from Smokin Mo's BBQ called Sweet Carolina. They only have a few locations, so we always stock up when we go by one. They also have a website where you can order a variety pack or a case here. And trust me, we could use a case up pretty quickly around here. There is nothing quite like this sauce!

Learn Something New

February was an amazing month for me. It was the month I took these photos. It's taken me until this actual photoshoot for me to realize I really do have something special when it comes to photography. I have been shooting for years, worked for a photographer, even freelanced for a magazine, but up until this point on this actual day in February when I sat looking through these photos, I finally learned that I actually have a knack for this.

So with great vengeance and determination, I set out to finally set up my own photography business. So most of my learn something new stuff for the past few months has been focused around building a business. Applying for a license, finding insurance resources, setting up a domain name, ordering business cards, and still trying to improve my skills as well.

A lot of my time was spent building my website, but thankfully I finally got it complete. Here it is: Lynne Ashcraft Photography. With a website, I finally feel legit! More on the progress of the business later...

Read More

In February I finished the classic novel Daniel Deronda by George Elliott. I am not sure what to say about this novel. First would be that it was incredibly long! Not Moby Dick long, but loooooong. And I think it seemed longer to me because I really did not like the heroine. I am not even sure she was meant to be a heroine. But if she wasn't, he sure did spend a lot of time writing about her. But I did love Daniel. And it was some interested insight into how Jewish people were viewed back in the late 1800's.

Take More Pictures
See post above about Learn Something New. More to come...

Move More

This is the one I have struggled with the most. But I have at least tried. Even if it is just Wii Fit every now and then... I guess the animals are so excited they want to get in on the action too!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

2010 To "Do" List - an Update

I would be like most if I was posting on here that I had lost steam on my 2010 To "Do" List, but I am proud to say, I have actually stuck to it. I am just INCREDIBLY slow to share the news!

So I have decided to limit myself to monthly updates on my progress. I am already way behind, but hope to have something posted for February tomorrow. And for March later in the week. So stay tuned!!!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Ready... Set... GO!

This is our niece Isabella playing one of her favorite games with Jonathan....

Ready.... Set....


Yep, she loves her Uncle Jonathan!

2010 To "Do" List - Learn Something New, Week #4

Ok, I'm slow to post, but I actually have been on the ball with keeping up with my 2010 To "Do" list. So in week 4, I conquered my desire to learn how to use this monster...

Ok, so it's not really a monster, but I've had it for two years and it's stayed in the closet the whole time, so it could double for a monster lately. But I decided to dust it off for a trip to Joann's for a basic sewing class. I've sewed before as a kid, but my mom set everything up and all I had to do was stitch, so I've been lost when it comes to trying it on my own. Thankfully, the lady that taught the class helped fixed my machine too.... I guess the lack of use got a little too overwhelming for the machine or something. By the end of the night, I was officially sewing with my machine and had created this darling little bag...

Now, I have my monster sitting on a table in our office... and if I am hoping if I just keep it out of the closet for a while, it doesn't just become part of the decor and I will actually make something with it eventually!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

2010 To "Do" List - Learn Something New, Week #3

In Week 3 of my 2010 "To" Do List, I spent some time at a Click Moneky's Meetup where we all gathered to share our hoarded treasures, ie photography equipment. It was a rainy night, so I didn't bring much (so that I didn't have to haul it in from the car), but there was lots of other treasures there that others had to share. From lighting systems (including a six foot soft box - yikes!), to the Time Engle's trademark flashlight collection, to this little gem that I fell in love with...

Kiny Mccarrick brought her creation to share. An old 2 1/4 film camera that she had adapted to use her DSLR with. You get all the grain and feel of vintage photos, but the freedom of the digi world (without superimposed post production). She rigged it by attaching a cut up cereal box and lots of electrical tape to enclose it for the length that she needed.

Here are some samples of what she was able to do with this.

So what did I learn this week? A little about soft boxes, a few new things about lighting possibilities, but mostly, a LOT about how much I still have to learn. But like I shared at the meeting with those just starting out, a wise man (and great photographer) once told me, "You can learn the technical stuff as you go, ...but you can't learn the eye. If you have the eye, you have what it takes." I really hope that saying starts to sink in for me soon.

Monday, January 18, 2010

2010 To "Do" List - Learn Something New, Week #2

As I prepare for the launch of the 2010 Library of Memories class at Big Picture Scrapbooking, I started considering switching to a digital version of the LOM system. I spent a lot of time and money to start this system and felt really energized and reinvested in my scrapbooking creativity, but I haven't really used or kept up with it. So much still sits on my computer because I take SO many pictures, it would be overwhelming in time and especially cost, to keep up with it. So maybe a digital version is the answer for me. However.... when I started this LOM group on yahoo, I also started using ACDSee to catagorize the existing photos I had on my hard drive. Over the course of a few weeks, I spent about 30-40 hours working on getting all my photos tagged. But alas, after several hard drive crashes in my computer enhanced life, you would think I had learned my lesson and started backing EVERYTHING up! But I didn't. And I lost it all. Including three months worth of photos. Thankfully, I had printed some of those because of the LOM system and had (some of) them already printed so I could re-scan them. Now, as I consider re-organizing my system and switching to digital, I was a bit weary of investing all the time to re-catagorize everything and risk losing it again. So I wanted to make sure ACDSee could do what I needed.

This week I actually sat down and read the ACDSee users manual from cover to cover. I did invest in the 2009 version a couple of years ago. I also use Picasa, which is a free photo organization system, for organizing all my digital scrapbook stuff, and either would work, but now that I actually read the ACDSee users manual, I am glad I invested in it.

So what are some of features I learned to "do" when I read the manual you ask? Well, for one, they emphasis MULTIPLE times to back up your directory often! Too bad I didn't read this earlier. But I also learned, I can keyword and categorize all of my images without having to keep them all on my hard drive.

It will automatically create image thumbnails so I can keep the larger version somewhere else outside of my hard drive and free up that space. (Speaking of which, I now religiously back up all of my images to an external hard drive and burn them to CD, like a good girl should!) I can back up the directory to CD or to my external hard drive as well and it will back up the thumbnails with it.

I also learned that using keywords rather than categorizing may suit my needs more.

I originally used a ton of categories, but then found that if I wanted to find a picture of say me and my Dad together, and I clicked on my name and I clicked on his name, it gives me every photo I am in and every photo he is in. If I use the keywords instead, I can search for keywords and specify that I only want it to show me photos with Both words, or with either word. Yay!

So now that I am about 99% sure I am going to switch to a digital LOM version, I started thinking about all the photos and film that still need to be digitized. Yikes! But it's been a fun weekend going through old film and photos and looking at all those images. Especially those from when I first started out as an amateur photographer. I miss those days where you had no choice but to shoot in Manual mode, the says of black and white film and mounted transparencies, the days where you had to rely on what you knew and couldn't see the product of what you shot until you were in the dark room. But then again, I wouldn't give up my DSLR for anything!

I don't want to sound like a spokesperson for ACDSee. There's plenty of other photo organizing software options out there. The point for me was that that something I already purchased had the capabilities to do what I need, but because I didn't take 30 minutes to sit down and read the manual, I lost out on so many more great things that it can do for me beyond what I ever imagined it could do. What I learned wasn't so much about a new program or reading a manual, but more about how I limit myself by being lazy and thinking I can figure it out on my own. Maybe this is a bigger lesson that will help me realize that a little effort now, saves a lot of frustration later.