Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Recipe: Mini Pumpkin Cheesecakes (Pretend it's Fall)

Ok, mine DO NOT look as good as the one's from this post. I'm still learning, so ya know. Anyway I love love love pumpkin recipes, even when it's not Fall. It's definitely harder to get a hold of pumpkin when it's not close to the holidays, but if you stock up ahead of time, you're good to go. I found the recipe online (here) and thought I would give it a shot for dessert one night.

stuffs for the crusts 

 line cupcake liners with the graham mixture

mixing up the filling in my poorly lit kitchen

Here is what you need for this recipe:
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1⁄4 teaspoon table salt
  • 1 cup graham cracker crumbs
  • 8 ounces light cream cheese, softened (approximately 1 cup)
  • 1 cup plain canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
And here's what you do:
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Line a standard-sized cupcake pan with 12 liners.
  2. In a small bowl, toss together melted butter, salt, and graham crumbs. Use a tablespoon measure to spoon 1 heaping tablespoons crumb mixture into each liner. Press down with back of spoon to flatten. Bake crusts for 5 minutes or until lightly browned.
  3. Combine cream cheese, pumpkin, brown sugar, eggs, and pumpkin pie spice in a medium bowl. Beat on high with mixer for 2-3 minutes or until smooth. Spoon batter evenly into cups and bake for 20-25 minute or until set. Serve warm, room temperature, or chilled. Cheesecakes may be made up to 4 days before serving.

Instead of buying graham cracker crumbs, I used some I already had and just crumbled them up myself. You just put them in a bag and basically pound on it. It's quite a stress reliever! haha

Sorry this is kind of out of season, but I just love pumpkin recipes, I couldn't resist! Maybe you can just save it for later this year :) I hope you're all having a wonderful week!

Monday, April 22, 2013

Space Jam + Giveaway

*(Be sure to make it to the bottom of this post for a giveaway!)*
I have finally completed a photo that has been in my head for AT LEAST two years! I have attempted it once before, and it just didn't work out (left):

I think the first problem was that the astronauts just weren't small enough. It took me a while to finally find these little astronaut beads that were small enough for what I wanted. I decided to some something more straightforward and simple this time with a better background. But something about the composition still wasn't clicking for me. The shot above right was what I ended up with this last time. Something made me want to put a spoon in the jar though, so I tried it.  The fishing line that was holding up the jar wouldn't stay on without the lid though, so I had to give that up...or did I? 

I took the background off the wall, set it on the ground and set the jar of jam down on it. I loved the way it looked! Overlapping the jar with the planet reminds me of a Venn diagram a little bit. I love that it's hinting at symmetry, but it's not at all symmetrical, if that even makes sense. I actually like both of the ones I took this last attempt, but the shot from above just looks so much better to me, so that's the one I'm printing. I hope you guys like it too! I would love to hear your thoughts on it. It's available in my Etsy shop now! I can't wait to see how it looks on the metallic paper that I use. I feel like it will really make it pop.

Since I'm so SUPER happy that I finally did this photo and like it, I would like to offer a free 8x10 to one of my readers. All you have to do is leave a comment on this post letting me know that you'd like to be entered! I will choose a random winner next Thursday (May 2nd) when I get back from vacation.

Update: Diane (comment #7) is the winner of the print! Congratulations, Diane. I hope your boys love their new print. 

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Fifty Years Shared

Recently I was asked to come shoot the 50th anniversary party for these two lovely people above, the Hudsons. Their daughter-in-law is Rhett's aunt, so I knew some of the family already. I was actually pleasantly surprised by how fun it was! There was a lot of laughing and story telling, which made for a wonderful afternoon of celebrating this great couple. I wanted to post some of my favorites here, so you guys can share in the joy of the day. 

I loved the picture comparison of them in their early days and them now! A lot of people were commenting on how spicy the older photo was :) It was so sweet to see them giggle and whisper to each other in between greeting people. I found myself thinking several times that I hope Rhett and I will still be best friends like that when we hit 50 years. I know that marriage is a lot of work, and couples like the Hudsons really give me hope!  

I was admiring these roses and Mrs. Hudson was telling me that her husband used to grow them. I don't know anything at all about gardening, so of course I admire anyone that can grow something as difficult as roses!

At the end of the party, the whole family got together for a quick snapshot. I would have done it outside but it rained the entire afternoon (just didn't want you guys to think I didn't consider that an outside photo would be prettier). My favorite of the family shots is the funny faces one! Let's face it, those are always the best ones. 

I hope you all enjoyed this glimpse into a great celebration. I am really looking forward to doing this for myself in about 49 1/2 years :)

Friday, April 12, 2013

Easy Mexican Pork Wraps

Now that it's finally Spring, and Summer is around the corner, I'll be getting busier. I feel like I'm always busy in the summer, even though it's really the most relaxing time of year (work-wise). Since I'm always busy though, I like to have some easy-ish recipes to fall back on when I don't have time for a big meal. Mexican pork wraps (above) are one of my favs! There are several different recipes you could try. I used one from my Better Homes and Garden cookbook. You can pretty much just add whatever you like to it, and that's what makes it so easy! I might make some guacamole to go along with it next time.

Mexi-Pork Wraps

8 ounces lean boneless pork, cut into thin bite-sized strips
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 tablespoon olive oil
3/4 cup frozen whole kernel corn, thawed
1/2 cup chopped roasted red sweet peppers (I left mine raw and they were fine)
1/4 cup sliced green onion
3 tablespoons lime juice
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional...we always put a little extra cayenne!)
1/2 cup refried black beans (or buy regular black beans and mash them)
9-10 inch whole grain tortillas
1/2 cup shredded romaine
1/2 cup chopped tomato
(sour cream, optional)

1. In a skillet cook and stir pork strips and garlic in hot oil over medium-high heat for 4-5 minutes or until pork is no longer pink. Set aside.
2. In a medium bowl stir together corn, red peppers, green onion, 2 tbsp of the lime juice, cumin and cayenne. In another smaller bowl combine black beans and the other tbsp of lime juice.
3. Spread 2 tbsp of black bean mixture down the center of each tortilla , top with pork strips, corn mixture, romaine and tomato. Fold bottom edge of each tortilla up and over the filling. Roll up tortillas around filling.

You could also do this with chicken! I honestly don't measure out all the stuff like the spices, lettuce, tomato and onion. I just kind of use however much I want. Other easy dishes along the same line include tacos (duh), beef enchiladas (which we enjoyed last night. Used a recipe on the back of a can of enchilada sauce), and fajitas. Fajitas are a bit more work as you have to do quite a bit of chopping.

I'm looking forward to Summer a lot now that it's finally getting warmer! I really hate when it gets super hot, but I still prefer it to the cold. I will be outside a lot this year now that we have Chipper. He just loves to play in the back yard and go for walks! I can't believe how fast he's growing up. I hope you all have a wonderful weekend planned. We're looking forward to a trip to the zoo with Rhett's family! There are several grandchildren now, so it should be interesting. haha

Friday, April 5, 2013

Left a Clouded Mind and a Heavy Heart

Last weekend we had a bit of fog on Saturday morning, and I wanted to take some photos around campus while it was still foggy. Of course by the time I got done with my errands, it was gone. Well this morning I woke up to more fog! It was actually a lot thicker than last time, but I decided to try taking pictures anyway. I came to work early so I wouldn't miss it, but it didn't end up lifting until after 9 anyway. Here are a few of my favorites

The title of this post is from Hopeless Wanderer by Mumford and Sons (listen here). I felt it was appropriate as I have had a heavy heart about something lately. I've been following a fellow Union alum's story about his struggle with cancer on There are a lot of people praying for him, and we are not losing hope that a miracle can happen! I know it may seem crazy to think there's any chance of recovery after the "non-curative" diagnosis, but crazier things have happened. I really loved their spirit and strength in this video. I have only met Will once or twice when he's played at Union, and I doubt he would even know who I am, but I have been so encouraged by his and Angie's show of faith during their struggle.

Sorry to be so melancholy on such a beautiful day (now that the fog has gone, it's 65 and sunny)! I felt like I needed to share Will's story in a small way. Even if you aren't a believer, hopefully you can find encouragement from them when you are enduring your own struggles.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Logan - 9 Months

Earlier this week I was FINALLY able to get some portraits of this sweet boy here. I went to high school with his mom, Brandie, and she contacted me a few weeks ago about getting some photos of him. We had a hard time getting together because every time we scheduled a shoot, the weather was either cold or rainy. It's very hard to predict the weather in Jackson because the forecast changes so often. We finally had a nice day Monday, so we took advantage of it! I'm super happy with how these look. It's hard to take a bad shot of such a cutie. I just love the one of his smiling at his toy!

I am getting geared up for a race this coming weekend, and I could not possibly be more excited! Libby, Emily and Kelsey are going with me to St. Louis to run the GO! St. Louis marathon relay. I'm not exactly prepared for it, but I think it's going to be a lot of fun. It'll just be nice to have some girl time!