More Spring – Wednesday March 25, 2009

The weather is abso-stinkin-lutely (to quote my friend Crysta) gorgeous right now. The azaleas and dogwoods and wysteria are at their peak. And I have to send back the rental lens today so I went out yesterday to catch a little more spring with it. I’m sure Sonya was wondering what I was doing when I passed her twice in about 5 minutes. Last evening after work I headed out and found a dogwood tree with the Perfect blooms on it near Ken & Carmel’s house. And then I stopped in to say “howdy” and ended up taking some squash plants off of her hands. So I ran some over to my parents. And then dropped off some extras at Eric & Linda’s house and chatted with Eric and Micah for a bit. Then stopped by the church to sign up for bake sale items. Then on home at 7:45. Not bad for someone who had intended to be home all evening. 

spring 10

spring 11

spring 12
This place in town has a yard that is about half a city block. They always have the most lovely yard in the spring.

spring 13

spring 14

spring 15
“Pods” on a crepe myrtle tree

spring 16
I thought I wasn’t going to get any tulip tree blooms this year (again) and then I discovered that my parents have a tree in their yard so I got them afterall!

spring 17
Love the new green growth that is visible all around. I was amazed at how much greener it is here than in SC last weekend. There was almost a line somewhere around Wrens, GA where the growth difference was apparent.

spring 18
Pretty little weeds near the lake

spring 19
Flowers in the swamp at the lake. Don’t worry. There probably aren’t (m)any gators here.

spring 27
My favorite dogwood shot.

spring 28
Bridal bouquet (?)

spring 29
More weeds.

spring 30


And yes, I’ve done a few of these. No more spring pics ’till I get good and going with the wedding pics. Check my portrait blog in a few days and I will have some up for you to see.

J & N 135  

Wednesday March 18, 2009

Just a few spring pictures to share with you. For some reason, many of the dogwood blooms look rough and I haven’t had time to look for nice ones.

But, I asked Raymonds if I could shoot some flowers in their backyard and they gave me the go ahead. They also have a bird feeder that stays occupied.

spring 01

spring 02


A “painted” version:

spring 03



spring 4


And the ever present azaleas:

spring 5

spring 6


Christy, this is for you and anyone else interested in the Canon 85mm 1.2L lens.  (I’m renting it for a week.) It is a heavy lens (3.2 lbs). The weight alone is formiddable. So extremely different from the [edited to add] 50mm 1.8.

I got it today and had a few minutes over lunch to shoot a few outside. Since I have no victims in range these sample shots do not include humans. When you have the thing wide open at 1.2 you have to be very deliberate about your focus target.

Amazing bokeh, though.

lens 85

lens 85b

lens 85c

lens 85g

lens 85e

In my kitchen, no lights except the overhead flourescent.

lens 85d

In the living room, just some window light.

lens 85f

Now I shall go lift weights to prepare myself for handling this thing on Saturday.



Asian Salad w/ Grilled Chicken

She asked what I was doing taking pictures of wonton wraps. I said it’s for a xanga post. I said they seem to like food posts. I said I try to give them what they like. Just don’t get too demanding. Ha. Like that will happen.

If you’ve ever had the Asian Sesame Chicken Salad or something like that at Panera Bread, and liked it, you will probably like this. It is very similar, although not a clone. We were first introduced to this salad, sans chicken, by my sister Laura. I’m not sure if this is her exact recipe or not. This is presented as a complete meal but you can easily serve this as a side dish and skip the chicken. Here it is:

Asian Salad

1 head lettuce
1/4 c. sunflower seeds
1 T. sesame seeds
1/2 pkg wonton wraps, cut into 1/3″ strips and fried

Optional: sliced almonds, finely chopped cilantro

2 T. sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. accent
1/2 tsp. black pepper
3 T. vinegar
1/4 c. oil

Grilled Chicken:
4 boneless skinless breasts
1 c. Italian Dressing
1 c. water
1 T. Natures Seasoning
Marinate for at least 12 hours before grilling.

The least fun job is frying up the wonton strips. In case you don’t know what wonton wraps are, here they are.

 Salad 1

They can be found in the produce section of most grocery stores. They are very thin but puff up a little when you fry them.

Salad 2

Try to cut them a little straighter than I did. Drop them into hot oil and they will puff up and turn a golden brown. Keep them stirred so they brown evenly. It takes around 1-2 minutes and they’re done.

Honestly, they look a little gross here.

Salad 3

But they are so nice and crisp when they’re done.

Salad 4

At a closer look, yeah, it doesn’t look very appetizing so ignore them except to turn them.

Salad 5

This is how much you get from half a package. That’s a dinner plate, btw.

Salad 7

The dressing is quite easy to make. I just dump all of the ingredients in the jar and shake it up. This is how much one recipe makes:

Salad 6

Kinda gets lost in the jar there. But see I like to double the recipe and store the excess in the fridge for later use. It stays good a long time.

Salad 9

But if you feeling a strong conscience against using Accent (the wicked MSG) you can leave it out, or cut back on it. I have to admit I did use half the amount it calls for.

Throw the chicken on the grill.

Salad 8

My rule of thumb for boneless breast meat is that if you think it’s done, it probably is. Years of making SURE meat was fully cooked by over-grilling have been over for a while now. White meat is just not something you want to let dry out.

Salad 10

Salad 11

Yum! I could handle some of that right now. And by the way, this is how we made the chicken for last weekend’s grilled chicken sandwiches.

After you pull the chicken off the grill, let it cool and then slice it thinly.

Salad 13

For the lettuce, I used mostly Romaine and some iceburg. And I didn’t have sunflower seeds so I used dry roasted pumpkin seeds instead which I like just as well, better actually.

Salad 12

Add the wonton strips, crunching them up a litttle so they are not in big pieces.

Salad 14

Add enough dressing to make it wet but not dripping and toss it but for pity’s sake, get a bigger bowl than I did. That’s a weakness of mine – trying to mix something in a too smallcontainer.

Place it in a salad plate and add the chicken on the top. And dig in.

Salad 15

Is it lunchtime yet? I forgot. For lunch I have jasmine rice and curry chicken.

Salad 18

We are not regular meat and potato people as you can tell. In fact, several weeks ago we did have meat (grilled ribeyes) and potatoes for supper. The next night it was baked oatmeal (Carolyn’s recipe) with frozen peaches. I honestly couldn’t tell you which meal I enjoyed more. I’m just weird like that.

Have a great weekend!

BB Tourney 2009 – Wednesday March 11, 2009

This past weekend we had our 2nd Annual Basketball Tournament to benefit our school. It was thankfully not as warm as last year but it was pretty close. 85 degrees in March. Nothing like a little spring weather. The birds are singing their hearts out, the dogwoods and azaleas are blooming, the bumble bees are bumbling, or whatever it is they do. Back to basketball, which this is really supposed to be about…

Wendy and Carmel helped with me organizing the food stand, a great help!! Thankfully I had my paperwork from last year available and we didn’t change the menu much. We added smoothies, which were a hit, and strawberry lemonade.

Here is our smoothie recipe, in case you need one.

Strawberry Smoothie

1/2 c. vanilla yogurt
1/3 c. milk
2 T. sugar
6 medium strawberries
6 ice cubes

Blenderize on high until totally smoothie.  1 – 12oz luscious serving. Of course you can use other fruits of your choice here.

We keeping going round and round about prices of the food. I’d love to hear some input from y’all about these prices. Here is a poster this year:

BB Tourney Poster

Most of the people attending are either people who have already contributed to the school and the players pay to play. What do you think? I already know the sandwiches are priced wrong. They were supposed to be 2.50 for the burgers (these are quality burgers) and 3 for the chicken (pure white meat).

And here are some scenes from the day.