Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Making a list, Checking it twice!

I'm flying home today!  Here are a few of the items that I'm packing.

The backyard produce includes:
Green and red peppers
Blood oranges
Guava fruit

Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Backyard Color

Early morning sun melts the frost on a rare California autumn leaf!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Ryan and Kristi (Preview)

My friends Ryan and Kristi recently moved out to SoCal and it's been lots of fun getting to see them more.  They are soon to be married and were brave enough to ask me (!!) to do their engagement pictures.  Ryan even let me use his super sweet camera!  We had a grande time at the Riverside Mission Inn and here are a few of my favorites.  Enjoy!

This is only a preview for the following reasons:
1. It's bedtime and I'm tired
2. I work tomorrow
3. I need to learn how to resize for web and apply my initials in a much more streamlined and FAST manner (Note to self: must look up more info on Photoshop actions!)
4. To increase your enjoyment tomorrow (let's hope!) when you get to see the rest!

Thank you and Good Night!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011


"We don't take enough time to enjoy our senses.  
To savor tastes and sounds and textures and light.  
The roughness of corduroy pants, 
the shadows on the floor as the sun shifts, 
the pink in a child's cheeks as he laughs.
This beauty, this unnecessary detail, is a mystery." 
- Emily Wierenga

(From this website, sent to me by this dear friend.  Pictures by me.)

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Autumn Abundance

I know that it's winter for many of you, but it's still Autumn here in SoCal.  We have been super than excited to pick our first few tomatoes from our garden.  For those that have hear our gardening woes, you will understand how awesome this is for us!  And for those who haven't, yes - we should have had tomatoes long ago.  But we are just now getting them and for that, we are very thankful!  The other fruits include persimmons and either tangerines, clementines, or tangelos (we can't figure out which they are!)

On friday, I turned 20 pounds of this....

...into four loaves of this!  We're enjoying it immensely!

Friday, November 04, 2011

Resolutions and Molasses Cookies

Yesterday I made molasses cookies.  And I was talking to my brother at the same time.  He asked me if I was going to take any pictures of the cookies and post them on my blog.  I said probably not.  He asked why.

I said, "Because I have so many pictures just sitting around on my hard drive from last spring and this summer and I don't have time to get through all of them so why add more pictures to the pile?"
He said, "You should just post one a day and don't worry about making each post a massive epistle."
I said, "Yeah, you're right."

Here's to more posts but less length.  Not every day, that's a bit much.  Just more often.  We'll see how it goes...

So, without further ado.... Here are some Molasses Cookies to kick off the season of snow and good cheer (unless you live in Loma Linda, in which the snow is missing.  But we have plenty of good cheer!  Barry and I already had a christmas present planning session.  We can't wait!)

Molasses Cookies for Barry

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour (try it with half white whole wheat)

2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
3/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon cardamom
1/8 tsp ground black pepper

12 tablespoons (1 1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened (try it with 6 TBSP of applesauce to replace 6 TBSP of the butter)
1/2 cup dark brown sugar, packed
1/3 cup granulated sugar, plus 1/3 cup for rolling cookies
1 large egg (I used 3 Tbsp apple butter instead)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup unsulphured molasses

1. Whip butter and sugar until light.  (2-3 minutes)  Add vanilla and molasses.  Whip until mixed.
2. Combine all other dry ingredients and mix well.
3.  Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients.  Mix well.
4.  Roll small balls of dough in your hands and then flatten.  Place on cookie sheet.
5.  Sprinkle sugar on top.
6. Bake at 375 for 10 minutes.  You want them to still be a little undercooked when they come out of the oven.  They WILL harden as they cool.

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Birthday Apple Fritters (Vegan)

Once a year on my birthday, it is tradition to make homemade donuts.  This year, I made apple fritters, and they were blow-you-away good.  I made two batches - one vegan and the other non-vegan.  We then conducted a randomized and controlled study where we compared the vegan batch with the non-vegan.  It consisted of Barry closing his eyes and me feeding him.  He couldn't tell the difference and no one else could either.  I'm including the recipe below, but I only recommend that you make these once a year.  More often than that might get you addicted ;)  I also suggest that you invite lots of friends to help partake of the feast.  They are too good not to share!

Vegan Apple Fritters
Adapted from Lara Ferroni

400 grams flour (I used both cake flour and all-purpose.  Next time I'll sub in some white whole wheat)
2 teaspoons baking powder
75 grams sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 tablespoons Smart Balance or vegetable oil
1 large or 2 small apples, chopped into small pieces (I used Honey Crisp and they were DELICIOUS!)
5 tablespoons applesauce
1/4 cup soy milk
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
High-heat vegetable oil (canola, safflower or peanut) for frying
cinnamon sugar, powdered sugar or doughnut glaze as desired
Combine the flour, baking powder, sugar, salt, and spices. Add the butter to the flour mixture and work in with your fingers to break up the big pieces. Add the apple pieces, and stir to coat.
Whisk the applesauce, soy milk, and vinegar together, and add to the flour mixture. Mix until just combined. (I had to add quite a bit of flour here.  I indicated an additional 100 grams of flour in the directions but feel free to add more if the dough is still very sticky.)  You should have a dough that resembles scone dough… so it’ll will hold together but likely be a little sticky.
On a well floured surface, with well floured hands, press the dough out into a 1/3-1/2 inch deep round.  Cover, and let the dough rest while you bring the oil (2″ deep in a pot) up to 350F.
When the oil is hot, cut the dough into small rounds, about 2 inches in diameter.  I just used a spoon and my hands.  And I used plenty of extra flour here.  Don't aim for perfection, they'll look great regardless! 
Fry for 1 minute on one side, flip and fry for a minute on the other.  Turn over and repeat if they are not yet turning brown.  They should be a medium golden brown. Check the oil temperature often - it tends to cool off with each batch.
Drain the fritters on a rack above a paper towel, until cool to the touch. Then dust in cinnamon or powdered sugar or glaze with your favorite doughnut glaze (I used a cinnamon glaze. Yum!)

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Glacier National Park, Part 1

After an epic 24 hour drive from Loma Linda to Montana, we camped just an hour or so outside of Glacier National Park on National Forest Land.  We really appreciated Montana's emphasis on the outdoors - all the National Forest Land access roads were well designated with clear signs.  The next morning we pulled into Glacier, greeted by dark skies and imminent rain.  We set up our tent and went for a hike anyway.  With just two days to explore one of the most beautiful parks in America, we weren't going to lose any time!

The trails were lined with beautiful periwinkle and red wildflowers.  The brightness of the colors was almost unbelievable!  The grey skies only increased their beauty.

We hiked up to one of Glacier's famous rock Chalet's (sorry, no pictures.  I tend to avoid human-made objects when I'm photographing landscapes!)  Unfortunately, the longer route we had wanted to take (along those steep, snow covered slopes behind us) was closed due to the high snow levels.  Instead, we headed back to our cozy tent and went to bed early :)

By the time we were almost back to the car, the skies had mostly cleared and blue sky shone through.

The incredible, iconic view of Glacier's impressive peaks.  (I noticed upon leaving Glacier that our road map has this same view on it's cover.)  Scroll right to see the entire panorama. 

Sunday, August 28, 2011


Someday I will visit this incredible land.  Someday I will take pictures like this incredible photographer.  Go check out Patrick J Endres and his pictures of Alaska.  They are breathtaking!

Photo taken by Patrick J Endres in Gates of the Arctic National Park, Alaska.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Home: New York

Yep, still catching up from our time back East.  Barry and I spent some incredible days with my family at Camp Cherokee hiking Mt. Regis in the rain and canoeing up to Polliwog Pond.
Overlooking Saranac Lake from St. Regis

Now for Polliwog Pond

Swimming and swinging in the rain!

Haven't found a better spot yet!  Rope swing, sandy beach, beautiful views, silent waters - doesn't get better!

Elissa and Joel's version of canoeing!