Monday, January 30, 2012

Travel & Photography Series ~ Sedona, AZ

This is the next chapter in my occasional series on Travel and Photography.  I have been blessed to travel quite a bit in my career and for fun.  I'd like to share are some experiences and some of my fav pics from my trips. My goal for this series is to share travel ideas and share photography that I've collected on the road. I rarely get souvenirs when I travel. My photos are my keepsakes. 

You're welcome to join!  Feel free to jump in the conversation if you been to any these places. I also welcome feedback on the photos.  If you like, please let me know. I love comments!   If you think the photo could be improved, please speak up! The only way to improve is to learn from those who know! 

We enjoyed Sedona during Thanksgiving 2011. We found the wonderful Cozy Cactus bed-and-breakfast! They have a great breakfast and awesome hiking is right out their back door. We also explored our adventurous side by renting a jeep for some off-roading.  We had a wonderful long weekend!

Here are some of my favorite photos from the trip. 

This photo was almost straight out the camera. I only sharpened and cropped it a bit.   Love the contrasting colors and sweeping sky!

Storms rolled in during our visit. Awesome for black and white shots.

Looking at the next photos, I couldn't decide which I liked more. In color (only sharpened and cropped), the colors are vivid and amazing. 

But, in black/white, it makes me think of the old west.... riding bare back and slinging guns.  Well, none of which I know first hand, but an ol' Midwestern girl can dream like a cowgirl!
Which do you like more?

I welcome and appreciate feedback and suggestions from other photography buffs!

Enjoy More!

****Now for the blah-blah-blah..... I did not receive compensation in any way for this blog.
I encourage you to read my full disclosure statement  if you want the bits and details.

Like the idea? I would be honored for you to link back to this post!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

30 Day Photography Challenge - Day 6/30

With Day 6 of my 30 Day Photography Challenge, I am taking on food photography again. My first rodeo with food photography was my Lasagna recipe.  It looked good, but I had lots of room for improvement.

Today's challenge was photographing my On Request Coffee Cake (recipe post is here). It's a very moist coffee cake that my family loves, so I recommend checking it out.

It's a challenge in food photography to make the food look appetizing. Color should be inviting and make you want to take a bite. Too much detail can make the food look grainy and fake. 

Here are my favorite photos from the shoot.

I like how the lighting turned out here.

The eggs turned out pretty good. Not too gelatinous and still has warm tones.

I like how the movement was captured, but I think there is too much detail in the flour.

Of course, I have to lick the spoon. Yum!

I like the composition here...with the almost empty pan that the kids enjoyed.


I have improved the way I'm "seeing" light since my last food photography shoot.  That is definitely improving my photos. I think it's come a long way since the Lasagna shoot. 

I welcome feedback from photography buffs and enthusiasts! Let me know if you have any suggestions or any favorite photography sites that have tips!   

Enjoy More!

Like the idea? I would be honored for you to link back to this post!

Coffee Cake Recipe

This Coffee Cake recipe is moist and amazing!

It's based on an old family recipe that has evolved with time. My mom used to make this for holidays, so it has good, comforting memories.  But it is also so easy to make, so I now make it for my family on request.

This post is also linked to my 30 Day Photography Challenge ~ Day 6/30.

This recipe can be made in the morning and cooked immediately.  But, for a no effort morning, I prepare it and refrigerate it overnight. It needs an additional 15 minutes in the oven when it's refrigerated, but it is awesome, easy, and moist.

 Coffee Cake Recipe

Makes 4-5servings.
Time to Complete:  40 minutes

For the Batter
¾ cup sugar
¼ cup soft margarine
1 egg
½ cup milk
½ tsp vanilla
1 ½ cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt

For the Streusel
1 cup brown sugar, packed
4 Tbl flour
5 tsp cinnamon
4 Tbl butter, melted
1 cup chopped nuts (optional)

Prepare a square 9x9 pan with non-stick spray.
Mix sugar, butter, and egg on medium speed.  Then, stir in milk.
Blend dry items and stir into the batter.

Prepare the streusel by mixing those ingredients together in a separate bowl.

Stir by hand ½ streusel mixture into the batter, so it is mixed well.
Spread batter into prepared pan.
Sprinkle evenly with the remaining streusel.
Either bake immediately or refrigerate overnight.


Heat oven to 375 degrees.
Bake for 25 minutes or until toothpick is clean.
If the coffee cake was refrigerated overnight, bake for an additional 15 minutes, or until toothpick is clean.
*** This recipe can easily be doubled. When I do, I used a 9x13 inch pan and it fits perfectly.

Enjoy More!

Like the idea? I would be honored for you to link back to this post!

This post is linked up here!....

Friday, January 27, 2012

30 Day Photography Challenge - Day 1/30 - Facing the Day

"Facing the Day"
Nikon D40
Well, Day 1 of my 30 Day Photography Challenge was posted on Day 6.  I had several photos from Day 1 that I liked. However, I held off on the post because I couldn't decide which photo to focus on.

This photo is from a self-portrait shoot of mine. I find self-portrait shoots interesting. You are only person inconvenienced if you need more shots. You are the only person blocking and doing set up. You are the only person who frames, controls the lighting, and sets the camera up....  You are in total control of the shoot. If it's good or if it's not good, it's completely about you and your skills. It's about what you know and what you need to learn more about.  It was a fun shoot to do.

This 30 Day Photography Challenge is helping me to be creative, think outside of the box, and really get to know my cameras. It's also helping me to face my Word of the Year Confidence.

I would like to give a shout out to a couple of blogs that did awesome self-portrait projects that I have found very inspiring. Check them out!

Have you completed any self-portrait projects or are you in the middle of one? If you have a blog, please post a link. I'd love to follow along and see how your project turns out.

Enjoy More!

Like the idea? I would be honored for you to link back to this post!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

30 Day Photography Challenge - Day 5/30 - Ice Crystals

When the kids were little and we would see a beautiful sunrise or sunset,
I'd tell them that the angels must be having a painting party and celebrating!

This morning, the angels were sculptural geniuses! 

Do you think the angels were channeling their Jackson Pollock side?
What if they were recreating the food fight scene in Animal House?
Or the pottery wheel scene from the movie Ghost?  (Ew-w-w!)

I love the chiseled edges. Beautiful and delicate.

I love starting the day with finding unexpected beauty and inspiration.

Great way to start the day with the beauty of His work! 

What inspirations have you been blessed with unexpectedly?

Enjoy More!

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30 Day Photography Challenge - Day 4/30: Oops and Ouch

Day 4/30 - Part 1: "Oops"
I'm finding the 30 Day Photography Challenge is a BIG challenge when traveling for work.  The goal is to take a different photo each day for 30 day and learn something along the way.

The sky is supposed to optimal for the Northern Lights tonight, a rarity in northern Illinois.  That's one that's still on my bucket list! So, after a late dinner tonight, I went for a walk around the area looking for some inspiration.  I found no luck though, only cold feet, dark photos, and dirty snow.  I returned to the hotel and soaked my feet in the tub. I was so tempted to take a picture of the tiled bath wall and call it a night.  Then, I found this photo that I had taken while on the walk. It is the only photo that made it past edits tonight. It's an "oops" photo that I liked more than the ones I actually tried to capture. .... So, ironic! I think the layers, tones, and curves in contrast with the straight lines made it interesting.

Day 4/30 - Part 2: Ouch
Then, while writing this post, I found a second photo for Day 4.  I turned around to watch late night tv while typing and I caught this shot. It looked fun,  I needed to take a few extra shots to improve the lighting, so I probably need  to see my chiropractor when I get home from the trip.

Enjoy More!

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Tuesday, January 24, 2012

30 Day Photography Challenge - Day 3/30 - Traveling Rituals

While working today, I found nothing to capture today's picture for my 30 Day Photography Challenge. Unless you like the idea of seeing rows of hoteling cubicles at the office, I just had to pass.

I got back to my hotel room tonight and what caught my eye was one of my traveling rituals. We all have some when traveling (Oh, yes do you too! Admit it!) As a frequent traveler, I have developed a few traveling rituals to help me to feel more comfortable on the road. I'm sure my Mr E'alamode would call them quirks more than rituals and that I have more than a few.... well... anyway.... it's all subjective.)

One of my traveling rituals is setting everything in it's place. The brushes are in the same direction. Bottles are lined up. Flip-flops are ready (so my feet don't join the science experiment party on the hotel floor). Remote is wiped down, etc. The room is prep'ed and everything is in its place.

After taking the first photo, I was reviewing the pics and cringed.  Made some changes...."ah, that's better".
No, I'm not singing "Which one of these is not like the others, ...", but little adjustments and a few accents (like a nice lotion) make the difference when traveling.

Call it quirky. Call it an OCD thing. Whatever. It makes me happy. 
What do you do to feel more comfortable when on the road?

Enjoy More!

Like the idea? I would be honored for you to link back to this post!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

30 Day Photography Challenge - Day 2/30 - "Enjoying the little things"

Arg! You may ask?  "...Day 2"? What happened to Day 1? Well, it's still in "post-processing". Those readers who know me know I'm a bit on the critical side with my photos, so I haven't decided what will be the final "Day 1" pic.    Yes, you may say ...."Robyn, dear (though you may not call me Dear necessarily, but you get the point) , that is what your Word of the Year post was about!  Remember, it was about Confidence? Put it out there and go for it!".  Yes, I know. It's an on-going battle uphill and I'm working on it..

As for Day 2....well, it's a rough start....I took several pics this afternoon. I was reviewing them, deleting the bad and keeping the "possible".  I accidently deleted the "good possible" that I really wanted. Since I deleted it directly from the card, it didn't go to the recycling bin. It figures...and it is now lost.    

So, here is the new Day 2.  I'm traveling for work today and just arrived on location.  Watching football and blogging, does it get better? (...Yes, it does... only because you can't see the wine glass that didn't make the crop.)  The pic is unprocessed since I don't have PS on my work computer. 

Your question may be, "What is the score, Robyn? Are you watching the game?!"....Duh, it's 17-17 in Overtime!  You'll have to check the Post-Game to know the final.

Enjoy More!

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Friday, January 20, 2012

Master Closet Redo Revealed

The thumping of my heart today is for our Master Closet Redo! We have been struggling with closet space since I remarried 2 1/2 years ago . We quickly discovered the Master Closet did not meet both of our needs.

Here is the reveal if you like to read the end of the book before the engaging plot!...

Everyday a la Mode Master Closet Redo Reveal

Everyday a la Mode Master Closet Redo RevealEveryday a la Mode Master Closet Redo Reveal

For more on the Before/During/After bits, read on!....

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Oops ~ Broken Links ~ Blogger with Firefox/IE

As of January 16, there is an issue with the URL links in Blogger when using Firefox and IE.  Safari seems to be okay according to my sister ~ Hey, Jen!   And I just tested Google Chrome and it works successfully too.   I have also found this problem on other sites that use Blogger (also with Firefox and IE), so I will give up reading HTML code and get back get to where I want to be ....doing photos and writing content.

So, if you are using Firefox or IE, when using links (such as in Popular Posts, Archives, LinkWithin, or selecting the title of a post), readers need to scroll to the top of post at this time.   Please do! I appreciate that you came by and hope to not loose any readers!

Me ~ Frustrated and driven crazy by URL links and HTML
I have posted the problem on a few Blogger support sites, so hopefully we'll have an answer soon.  Any help from other Blogger users is greatly appreciated!

* Note that I couldn't pass up the opportunity to work on my self-photography even when frustrated.
Gotta to go with the flow! :)

18 Jan Update
There is sort of a resolution for this issue. For other Blogger users who are effected, Blogger updated their embedded comment processing. I have now changed my comment processing to popup. Unfortunately, popup comment windows do not allow the new direct reply processing that the embedded comments allowed. Not the best solution, but it's better than scrolling back up.   Readers can also use Google Chrome or Safari to avoid the problem on other Blogger sites.    Wo-Ho!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Word of the Year ~ Confidence

Word of the Year  2012, Everyday a la Mode

Layla at The Lettered Cottage has presented the challenge to choose one word that could have the potential to encourage focus and reflection and to inspire oneself.

Choosing my word for this year was a challenge. What one word sums up where I'm at? It could be silly and fun or it could be be full of possibility and promise.

After deliberating, I have chosen Confidence. My previous post mentions my fear of disappointing myself and being the "it's not good enough"- "it's not done yet"- "just one more change"-"it can be better"-"it's not ready" person. I admit I stall myself. Part of the definition of Confidence is "belief in oneself and one's powers or abilities". I need a boost of that, to step out of my comfort zone and take some risks.

On that note... I took these photos this morning. I was inspired by the morning light, so I quickly set up my tripod, grabbed the remote, and rolled with the spontaneity. I think they turned out dream-like, and sort of ghostly,  and kind of cool.  I have plans for this year that I need more confidence to achieve. (I'll discuss those plans in a separate post when it's the right time.) Having the confidence to post my self-photography work is one step in getting closer to that goal.

I welcome feedback and critiques from other art and photography buffs. There's a risk, right out of the box!

Word of the Year, Everyday a la Mode

What is your Word of the Year?

Enjoy More!

Like the idea? I would be honored for you to link back to this post!

* These photos were processed with a modified version of Alex Beadon's Photoshop action Black hearts White.

This post is linked here at #318...
The Lettered Cottage

Friday, January 13, 2012

MCP Project 12 January

I've decided to participate in MCP Project 12.  (It is a great site for photography related topics.)  MCP Project 12 is an opportunity for photographers to take more photos, be creative and have fun. At the beginning of each month, over 2012, the project will have a new theme.  This is so inline with my 2012 goal to be more inspired, creative, and expand my photography skills! I'm in!  So with or without my DSLR, I'll be linking to this project each month. Love the challenge!  I also appreciate feedback, suggestions, and critiques!

The MCP Project 12 theme for January is appropriately RESOLUTION.

Resolution Shot 1: Explore

Dry Torgulas, FL ~ January 2012
This picture has lot of my resolutions rolled up into one:
  • Keep exploring (I just came back from snorkling).
  • Grow in photography.
  • Take more field trips (This was taken in one of the most remote national parks in the US).
  • Kick back, relax, and enjoy more!
  • Love the perks that hide flaws. (My sandy feet are hiding the missing pedicure that didn't get done before the trip).
Taken January 2012 in Dry Torgulas (70 miles west of Key West, FL)
Nikon D40 used for this shot.

Resolution Shot 2: Patience

Sunset in Key West  ~ January 2012

Taken at sunset in Key West, FL (January 2012). Love the bird who conveniently joined the party at the right time. 
A bad storm had just come through so I left my preferred camera at the hotel, so this was taken with a Panasonic DMC-ZS8 which is always in my bag.

Enjoy More!

Like the idea? I would be honored for you to link back to this post!

This post is linked here on #202 and #203!....

Friday, January 6, 2012

Bitten by the I-Bug?

Jamaica ~ July 2009
Posts, posts, and more posts about New Year's resolutions! They are everywhere. Everyone, it seems, is feeling tired of being stalled, stuck in the mud, tethered to the....ah, you get the point.

No resolutions here.  I'm setting strong goals and striving for change.  Goals give you the room to have two steps forward and one step back. There is no Fail, only Progress and Evolution and Success.

I have been bitten by the Inspiration Bug! Part of my problem is I've been bitten by too many I-bugs, so my focus is all over the place. There are so many things I want to do! I have Lists about my Lists. Where to begin?!

Another problem is the fear of disappointing myself. I'm the "it's not good enough"- "it's not done yet"- "just one more change"-"it can be better"-"it's not ready" person.  I stall myself. 

Was it Einstein who defined Insanity as "doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results"? We don't need to be Einsteins to figure it out! This year can be different! Will be different! Who-Ra! ....Okay, over the top, but you get my drift....

Tybee Island, GA ~ December 2011
I'm rollin' up my sleeves and I'm on board for the challenge and ready to move forward!  Bring it on!
Are you in?

Enjoy More!

Like the idea? I would be honored for you to link back to this post!

This post is linked here as #205....
ealamode's items Go to ealamode's photostream
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