Friday, July 30, 2010

Cooking with Sara: Basil Shrimp

Can we just talk about this photo for a moment?! 

Aside from the wrong row of shrimp in focus, I freaking love this photo!  When amazing pictures like this are so easy to take outside with almost zero tweaking, it really makes me hate taking photos in my kitchen.  Don't get me wrong - I love the layout of my kitchen; I'm really spoiled by this one.  But, the lighting in there is just beyond wretched, so I'm forever mucking with my camera, the window blinds, and photoshop settings. 

But anyway, this week I made a marinade for Basil Shrimp, and Bo expertly grilled them for us.   Click on over for the recipe....

Thursday, July 29, 2010

You Can Get By With a Little Help From My Friend

Want to hear something crazy cool?  One of my friends wrote an app for the new iPhone, and it's up in the iTunes store.  Wow! 

I don't get to play with this app because I've got an Android phone, but I totally wish that I could.  It uses the new iPhone's extra camera to create a "mirror" on the phone's screen.  Ummm...can we say handy?!  I wonder how long it will be until the Android slaps another camera on its frame so that I can Cake-Pop-bribe Jim into writing me an app like this one :)

If you've got the fancy new iPhone, you should definitely check it out!

* Note: Those screenshots above are the wife of this duo. Those eyelashes are totally real, and she doesn't even own an eyelash curler. We'll try really hard not to hold any jealous grudges. We'll try.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

More Big Girl Photos

I decided to go ahead and practice my new-found skills while I still had the fancy f/1.4 lens on rental.  And since I don't have any kids or gardens handy, I forced Rory to be my practice subject.  She's surprisingly pretty great about pictures.  When she's feeling particularly patient, she'll stare right at my camera lens and not move a muscle until I say, "Good girl, thank you!"  Yeah, she's a pretty stellar dog, if I do say so myself. 

I chose shots that would be extra tricky, to see what I could come up with.  The photos above and below this paragraph are next to a door with very, very bright (100 degree) sunlight outside, and dim lighting inside.  Couple that with a black dog, and it was hard to show any of her detail while keeping brightness to the photo.  I still need practice, but I'm happy so far. 

These "orange" photos were taken away from the sunny door, and the sunlight was also diffused through curtains and blinds.  (It's blazing hot here, and we're trying to keep the heat out as best as possible.  See Also:  $200 power bill last month.)

Our lighting downstairs tends to cast an orange glow to everything, and the wood floors behind Rory make the problem worse.  But oh well.  I kinda like that she's glowy, haha :)  I love the idea of the light glowing from one side, highlighting a portion of her face.  I'm going to keep working on finding a way to make photos like this work.

This shot isn't great for lots of reasons,
but I love that the only thing in
focus is her nose.  It's just so her.

She's a lover.


Monday, July 26, 2010

Removing My Camera's Training Wheels

I attended my very first photography class this weekend, and in two short hours, I learned so, so, so much.  I read a whole lot of blogs, and some (read: Pioneer Woman) have some amazing pictures featured daily.  And some (read:  Pioneer Woman) do explain camera settings and how the amazing photos were captured.  I've read all those explanations and camera lessons.  And.. Yeah.  Not happening in this brain of mine.  So, I didn't have high hopes for a group class that was only 2 hours long.  But learn, I did. 

I went to the intro class by Kate Byars Photography - "What Does This Button Do?"  Love the name, right?  She explained three concepts - ISO, Aperture, and Shutter Speed - in plain, funny English, and I left the class understanding how to play nicely with all three.  I'm now proud to be a straight-up Manual Mode only user.  Yee-haww!

Here are the before and after pictures I took during the class.  The first was a guess at settings or leftover settings from the previous shot.  After some mucking around, I was able to capture the second photo.  Pritty!!

 I'm slowly, but surely, becoming a big fan of f/1.4....

I love how the sunlight washes out the RH side of the photo.

 This is my Cupid's Arrow photo :)

Voila! A door!

M is for my friend, Mischa :)

Friday, July 23, 2010

Cooking with Sara: BBQ Chicken

Clean Plate Club, anyone?

That's the "after" shot of Bo's plate.  That little bowl of dipping sauce?  Totally unnecessary.  I changed the recipe to skip that part.  And if you squint, off to the right is an empty bowl of collard greens.  Yes.  Before you go shaking your head and thinking I've completely abandon my Pac-NW roots, you need to know that the real reason I made them is that they're cheap and easy green veggies to add to a meal.  I've been making mine with low-sodium chicken broth, a seasoning salt, and either bacon bits or a slice of bacon.  No oil, no butter, no lard, none of that.  And Bo says they're tastey.  (You totally can't take my opinion on the matter, because hello?  I'd never even heard the word "collard" until I met people from The Big Bad South.)

I'm far too proud of this photo.
I mean - it's just chicken.
Get a grip, sara.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Cooking with Sara: Easy Peasy Popsicles

What?  You were expecting a recipe photo?  You'll have to wait.

And indulge me just a tad.

Popsicle Beard!

Oh yes, back to our topic at hand.  It's Friday - that means comfy clothes and my Blah post.  (Anyone else wearing Chuck Taylors and cuffed jeans today?  Just me?)  So, I decided to make popsicles for the food blog today.  Easy, fairly healthy, and perfect for these hot temperatures we've been having.

In case Rory's beard isn't enough reason to click on over,
here's how they turned out:

Mmmmm...zoomed in close-up yumminess.

Remember when I made popsicles last summer?  Those were fancier (and yummier), but used a tad more ingredients and time.  Today's version is very throw-together and fast.  But I still luvvvvvv those Raspberry Mint Gramma Popsicles.  Maybe I'll make them again next weekend?

Thursday, July 15, 2010

An Open Letter to My Midsection

Dear Thighs, Dear Belly, Dear Buttocks:

I'm really just so sorry for how I've been treating you lately. 

It's not your fault that you look and feel the way you do; it's my fault entirely.  You don't deserve to be stabbed with my looks of disdain and discontent as we get dressed in the morning.  You don't deserve to be treated as some evil nemesis of this body of mine; you belong to me, and you are a part of me. 

To be honest, you really have never asked much of me.  Your greatest wish is for me to take you running, so that you'll feel strong and powerful and healthy again.  You want rest so that you can conquer each day with ease and grace.  You want to be less burdened by fat so that you're not having to struggle carrying around extra weight on this frame.  You're crying out to feel strong, and I'm completely ignoring your pleas. 

I'm sorry, Midsection, that I've been embarrassed of you and that I've racked my brain for ways to cover you up.  You've treated me so well over the years, carrying me to places and people and making my life so much richer by these experiences.  I've treated you as the enemy when really, you are a warrior. 

I'm sorry, Midsection.  I really am concerned with your wellbeing, and I'm trying hard to figure out how to take better care of you.  We'll get through this together.

Sara Kay


Tuesday, July 13, 2010

I'll Build You a Castle

image courtesy of Hueyatl's Flickr album

Bo and I were out driving around the NW Atlanta countryside a couple of weeks ago, and stumbled onto this...House.  That's a house, folks.  Not a museum, not a B&B, not an amusement park.  A privately owned and occupied house.  Whoa! 

image courtesy of Hueyatl's Flickr album

Legend has it that when the man asked the woman to marry him, she said she would, but only if he treated her like a queen.  So he proceded to build her a castle.  Uh, wow!  He built it in the 1970s, long before the area was more populated with busy roads and housing developments.  Today, it sits right on the edge of a busy road, and is in full sight for passersby.  Bummer for them, fun for us.  

image courtesy of Hueyatl's Flickr album

The moat - yes, you read that right - serves as a wraparound swimming pool:

More info here:

Friday, July 9, 2010

Cooking with Sara: Lemon Chicken with Mushrooms

In keeping with my lemony kick, I made up a chicken recipe with a lemon-based marinade.  It was fine; nothing amazing, but certainly worth tweeking for future meals.  What you do need to learn from this venture is that the red quinoa from Trader Joe's is icky.  It honestly tastes like dirt.  I don't know how, I don't know why, but it didn't taste yummy-in-my-tummy the way that regular ol' brown quinoa does.  Anyone else have this experience?

But, let me get back to dinner here.   Really, the moral of this story is that anything with mushrooms, shallots, and BUTTER is sublime.  You just can't argue with perfection.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

A Love Squashed

We had just pulled up to my high school in my purple Dodge Neon, circa 1999. I in a swishy dress, he in a handsome suit. We walked through the front double-doors, a little nervous and giddy inside. My parents greeted us with big hugs and remarked how much they really liked Bo. We gathered our name tags and followed the nametag woman down the hall to our table for dinner. I was really very excited about being able to attend a Reunion Prom and even more so that Bo would be with me for the fun. We arrived at our table, set for four, and as the nametag lady handed me my first course, I clumsily tried to pull my metal chair out while balancing a bowl of pasta. It dribbled over the side of the bowl, requiring me to quickly wipe the drip with my finger. I was far too preoccupied with getting to sneak a taste of the gorgeous bowl of squash ravioli slathered with the deapest red marina to even consider that it might further drip onto my swishy dress. As I drew my finger toward my mouth for that one sneaky taste,

my alarm clock went off.  The rude, inconsiderate thing.  I freaking love squash ravioli in a delicious marinara sauce, and my jerk of an alarm clock had to go and wake me up a millisecond from my being able to taste it.  Gahhhh, the agony. 

Friday, July 2, 2010

Cooking with Sara: Creamy Lemony Blueberry Pie

For this week's recipe, I really wanted something summery.  It's the 4th of July, after all!  But, here's the thing - I do not grill.  I do not bbq.  Those are Man Jobs.  Yes, I do whip up marinades and the like, but gosh darnit, I love making sweets! So, sweets are what you get.

This recipe is basically a chilled, no-bake, cream cheese pie that my family has made for years, but with the addition of a lemon curd layer on the bottom.  I thought it was deeelicious!  The texture of the whole ensemble is fluffy, so if you're not a fan of those kinds of desserts, too bad so sad.  But if you are, this one is fun.  And it resulted in my getting to add a fabulous lemon curd recipe to my repertoire.

Happy 4th of July, lovelies!!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Choose My Book, Please

I've been plowing through books this past month, and I love it!  I read more books in the month of June than I did over the entire past year.  Madness, huh?  Anyway, I've made it my goal to read some of the books sitting on my shelves before buying/borrowing new ones.  I'm about halfway finished with my current book, so I thought I'd poll you all to choose my next book for me. 

Let the voting begin!

Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell:  I don't read much nonfiction, but I love me some Malcolm Gladwell.  (sidenote:  one of the things that caught my eye on Bo's eHarmony profile was a mention of Malcolm Gladwell.  Swoon.)

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer:  This book is by the same author as one of my most favorite quirky book-turned-movies - "Everything is Illuminated."  It got really great reviews and is completely different than my other books on the shelf.

Father Time by ML White:  This novel was written by a girl from my high school! Which doesn't seem all that amazing until you consider the fact that each graduating class had roughly 70 students, and the town's population hovers near 2,500.  So, it's pretty darn fantastic that she's got a book out there in Published Land.  Congrats go out to her!

Yada Yada Prayer Group (book #1) by Neta Jackson:  Either my mom or my sister gave me this book, and I haven't read it yet because I've assumed that it's a ripoff of the YaYa Sisterhood book.  But maybe not?  It's actually part of a 7-book series; I had no idea!  Also, it might be a light, fun read after my current book, which is a little heavy and about grief and mourning.  And apparently, I have the "party group" edition of the book, which has recipes in it!