Saturday, March 30, 2013

Streusel-Filled Coffee Cake for Easter Morning

This delicious and memorable coffee cake recipe is my mom's who originally discovered it from Betty Crocker. My mom baked this coffee cake for special Sunday mornings like Mother's Day and Father's Day when I was growing up. I always loved eating it for breakfast and I'd never make it myself until today. Darn, it wasn't too hard-I could have been making it all these years! I cut myself two pieces and ate them warm out of the oven. Tomorrow is Easter and this coffee cake will be the perfect breakfast along with hard boiled eggs and sausages. My mom will also be making this for her Easter breakfast. How did you think I got the idea to make it? I love the streusel topping. I love the moistness of the cake part. Its the perfect combination of flavors!

Streusel-Filled Coffee Cake


1 1/2 flour
2 1/2 t. baking powder
1/4 c. shortening
1 egg
3/4 c. sugar
3/4 t. salt
3/4 c. milk
1/2 c. brown sugar
2 t. cinnamon
1/2 c. chopped nuts, we use pecans and walnuts
2 T. melted butter


Blend all ingredients. Beat vigorously 1/2 minute. Spread half the batter in greased square baking pan. Mix brown sugar, cinnamon, chopped nuts and melted butter; sprinkle half the mixture over batter in pan. Top with remaining batter, then remaining brown sugar mixture. Bake at 375 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean.

Now just try not to eat the whole pan! Remember that its for breakfast the next day!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

In Black and White

When I first started learning about photography I shot only black and white. At the Art Institute we used all film and I depended on my trusty Nikon FM 2 to carry me through. And carry me through it did. I learned about exposures, tones and zones for black and white and would spend hours developing all my film. I loved the feeling of satisfaction as I presented my prints to the class.

Today in 2013, things are pretty easy when it comes to black and white processing. Just shoot your photos on your digital camera and turn them into black and white in photoshop. You still get beautiful photography with even tones and shadows. The art form's still there, we just spend more time on our computers instead of the photo lab. All in all, its still all about the composition of your images. And that part will never change.

Below are ten of my favorite digital black and white photographs. My wish for you is that you're inspired to get out and compose some of your own. Whether you go old school and shoot some film or break that new camera out of the box and experiment. Black and white photography is a classic and will never go out of style.

The Mukilteo Lighthouse in Mukilteo, Washington.

A snow covered bike in Amsterdam, the Netherlands.
The famous sculpture, The Thinker, at the Rodin Museum in Paris.

The many bridges and gorgeous buildings make Paris an awesome place to have a camera.  Two years ago today I was there and spent about one week walking around and photographing Paris through my eyes.  

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Key Lime Pie for National Pi Day and St. Paddy's

Did you know today is National Pi Day? Think about it. Today's date is 3-14 just like the math equation 3.14, something I actually do remember from math class.  Twenty five years ago they started National Pi Day.  It may sound silly but anything that gives us an excuse to eat pie or pizza is good enough for me. 

To celebrate today, I made Key Lime Pie.  Its actually a healthy version and mostly fat-free plus it uses key lime yogurt.  I found the recipe on  If you are trying to eat more yogurt or trying to get your kids to, this pie recipe is for you.  I also like the addition of the fresh lime juice to tarten it up.  This pie isn't rich so it belongs more in the snack family. Sometimes there's nothing wrong with a healthy dessert.  I just try to avoid that, I mean, if your going to eat dessert, eat dessert! 

Since St. Patricks Day is in a few days, I also wanted to make a green food to celebrate.  As a kid, St. Paddy's was my least favorite holiday.  I never wore green and didn't have any in my wardrobe.  I was the kid in school getting pinched.  One year in second grade, I remember going through my clothes and trying to find something green.  There was nothing except pink and purple to wear, so me being the silly kid I was, I took a green marker and colored on my pants.  Suffice to say, not only was my mom not happy that I drew on my clothes but my classmates just looked at me funny.  But the luck of the Irish must have been near because the teacher pinned a green paper four leaf clover on my shirt and the other kids didn't pinch me. 

So here is a Key Lime Pie recipe as my way to celebrate the two holidays!

                                                                        Key Lime Pie

2 tbsp. cold water
1 tbsp. fresh lime juice 
1 1/2 tsp. unflavored gelatin
4 oz. fat-free cream cheese, softened
3 containers (6 oz. each) Yoplait Light Thick & Creamy key lime pie yogurt
1/2 c. frozen (thawed) reduced-fat whipped topping
1 reduced-fat graham cracker crumb crust (6 oz.)

In 1-quart saucepan, mix water and lime juice. Sprinkle gelatin on lime juice mixture; let stand 1 minute. Heat over low heat, stirring constantly, until gelatin is dissolved. Cool slightly, about 2 minutes. In medium bowl, beat cream cheese with electric mixer on medium speed until smooth. Add yogurt and lime juice mixture; beat on low speed until well blended. Fold in whipped topping. Pour into crust. Refrigerate until set, about 2 hours.  Makes 8 servings.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Senior Portraits

Things to Know When Booking Senior Pictures
Its almost that time of year to start thinking about Senior Portraits. If you or your son or daughter is a Junior in High School then the time to book your Portraits has arrived. The summer between Junior and Senior year is normally when these kinds of photos are taken. The school needs a photo for the annual around October of Senior year, plus you'll want to be ready to hand out wallets to friends and to also include pictures in Graduation Announcements. Below are some helpful hints to remember when getting Senior Photos done.

1. Bring at least three different outfits to pose in. I advise my Seniors to wear one dressy outfit and one casual. If they play sports, then a soccer or basketball uniform is always fun, too. Sometimes bringing khaki pants and a polo shirt can be a good balance to the dressy and casual. Basically, just mix it up and play around with your wardrobe. Make sure you are presentable and don't forget to wear your favorite shirt or hat to mix things up for some of those relaxed poses.
2. Make sure those outfits you choose are pressed, ironed and spot-free.

3. For the guys-comb your hair but don't do anything too wild to it. Wearing too much gel or combing it differently than you usually wear it might make you look too different than you normally do. Girls- don't go too crazy on the makeup either, these are your Senior Photos, not those old school glamour shots from the eighties.

4. Don't forget to bring props to pose with. Guess what I posed with in some of my shots when I was a Senior? A camera! I already knew I was going to photography school so it was the perfect prop. If you play sports you can hold a ball. If you play music, then your instrument. Get creative and see what you can come up with!

5. Go to a couple different locations. My sitting fee includes two locations.  Do you have a favorite park or beach? I did some portraits for a really sporty Senior and we did some shots on the tennis court.

6. Allow one to two hours for the shoot for wardrobe changes and driving from the two locations.

7. Make sure you get a variety of backdrops. I choose to shoot in natural light along with a light disk. I don't have a studio and do most of my portraits on location. A plain colored wall or backdrop looks great along with some outdoor shots. Some greenery or water is beautiful and makes the Senior really stand out in the photo.

I hope these tips have helped you in planning for your Senior pictures.  I look forward to capturing this memorable time in your life.  Go to my contact page and call me soon to set up your session!

Monday, March 4, 2013

Banana Crumb Muffins

Ripe Bananas.  You know what that means? Time to bake!  As a kid my mom would whip up some banana muffins for breakfast.  When I woke up and wandered into the kitchen while wiping sleep out of my eyes, I'd breathe in the aroma of bananas and brown sugar while she pulled them out of the oven.  These muffins taste like banana bread but they have the added factor of a crumbly brown sugar and butter topping which is added before baking.  When they're done they have a nice crackly, crunchy and sweet texture.

                                                                 Banana Crumb Muffins

My mom originally found this recipe in Taste of Home.

Yield:  About 1 dozen muffins


1-1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1 t. baking soda
1 t. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
3 large ripe bananas, mashed
3/4 c. sugar
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/3 c. butter or margarine, melted
1/3 c. packed brown sugar
1 T. all-purpose flour
1/8 t. ground cinnamon
1 T. butter or margarine


In a large bowl, combine dry ingredients.  Combine bananas, sugar, egg and butter; mix well.  Stir into dry ingredients just until moistened.  Fill greased or paper-lined muffin cups three-fourths full.  Combine the first three topping ingredients; cut in butter until crumbly.  Sprinkle over muffins.  Bake at 375 degrees for 18-20 minutes or until muffins test done.  Cool in pan ten minutes before removing to a wire rack.