Thursday, July 29, 2010

Caleb mowing

Caleb saw me vacuuming and decided to help by 'mowing'

Friday, July 23, 2010

Hello, my name is Hil and I'm addicted to iPhone apps

When picking up my new iPhone 4 (squeeeeeeee!!!!), the uber helpful and friendly Apple Store Genius lady mentioned her favorite new camera app, Camera Plus.  Since I am helpless in the face of my addiction, I downloaded it as soon as I skipped out of the store.  Now bloggities, I love PSMobile for photo editing, but it pales in comparision to the rad effects available on Camera Plus.  And I seriously love Hipstamatic for some cool cool lenses and film, but with the editing capabilities in Camera Plus, I can replicate those looks and it works twice as fast.

Last summer Brent planted some hibiscus plants in our backyard.  He found them on clearance at Lowe's and planted them in the dog heat of summer.  My hopes for their survival were low, but they not only pulled through but grew into GIANT plants with GIANT dinner plate sized blooms.  Me and the plant had a photo session yesterday morning and I will use it for a brief demonstration of Camera Plus' awesome abilities.

Here's the original picture.  Well, not the original, because I cropped and rotated the orientation 90 degrees to get it this way.

Next, I started playing with the effects.  See 'vibrant':

How's that for color pop? 

Now see 'so emo':

I can almost see Edward presenting dark and twisty bloom to Bella.

How about a little 'grunge':

I don't get as much Kurt Cobain out of this as I get Grandma's Attic.  Still love it though, the scratches are awesome.

Now for some 'Ansel':

Perhaps not the best example of Ansel, but you get the idea. 

Besides these effects, there's about fifteen or twenty more choices including 'faded', 'hipster' and 'antique'.

I haven't even gotten around to showing you the various borders including 'instant' (think polaroid), 'grit' and 'vignette'.   Also, it has scenes which change the lighting tones.  I'm in luuuuurvvveee!!!!!

I just realized this post came across as a sales pitch.  I WISH they'd given it to me for free, but honestly, 2 smackers is worth it for the hours of play I've gotten out of it so far.  My poor DSLR, in all of it's powerful, beautiful glory, actually has dust accumulating on it.  I'm definitely hung up on the iPhone camera apps right now.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Mixed Berry Pretzel Ice Box Dessert

We had a great fourth of July, especially since we got to enjoy it with a ton of Brent's extended family.  It was a day full of swimming, a great pot luck meal, and fireworks.

Caleb got to swim in the pool with all the big boys;

And show off his high five skills;

And operate some heavy machinery;

And hang out with family, enjoying the nice weather and our holiday off work.

And I made a dessert which was devoured within a few minutes of being served.  It's perfect for summer since it's cool, creamy, sweet, tart and crunchy all at once.

Mixed Berry Pretzel Ice Box Dessert
Source:  Noble Pig


2 cups finely crushed pretzels
3 Tablespoons sugar
12 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

8 oz. cream cheese
3/4 cup sugar
7 oz. plain Greek yogurt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 (3 oz) packages strawberry gelatin
1 (16 oz) package frozen sweetened sliced strawberries, thawed
2 cups fresh blueberries
Whipped cream

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit; mist a 9 x 13 baking pan with cooking spray. Place pretzels in a bowl of a food processor and process until finely crushed. Add sugar and melted butter and pulse to combine. Press pretzel mixture into baking dish and bake for 8 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack until completely cooled.

Make filling using an electric mixer on medium speed, beating cream cheese with sugar until well blended. Fold in yogurt and vanilla. Spread over cooled pretzel crust, cover with plastic wrap and chill for at least 2-3 hours.

In a large bowl, dissolve both packages of gelatin in 2 cups boiling water. Let cool until mixture begins to get syrupy, about 15 minutes. Stir in strawberries and blueberries and pour over cream cheese layer. Chill until firm, at least three hours or overnight.

Cut tart into squares and serve with whipped cream.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Baltimore Baked Beans

First off, you should know that these beans have nothing to do with Baltimore.  Nor are they baked.  But the recipe is a family favorite dating back thirty years or so and the first place a member of my family ate it was in Baltimore, Maryland.  So go figure.

As with a lot of old family staples, it didn't quite taste the same the first time I made it myself. My mom and Grandma must do something different than the written recipe calls for because I had to double the sauce to get it to taste as I remember.  I think it's because I drained and rinsed the beans before adding them to the crock pot.  I don't like bean juice at all, so I will probably continue doubling the sauce.  Anyway, Brent likes the BBQ flavor, so the more sauce the merrier as far as he's concerned.

Baltimore Baked Beans
Source:  Brunton family dinners and pot luck suppers


1/2 pound bacon
2 pounds hamburger
1 chopped onion
1 tsp pepper
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/3 c brown sugar
1/4 c ketchup
1/4 c bbq sauce
2 Tbsp molasses
2 Tbsp mustard
1 can each pork and beans, black beans, kidney beans and butter beans


Fry the bacon until crispy.  Drain on paper towels and when cool, chop or crumble.  Reserve 2 tablespoons bacon grease and use it to saute the onion until translucent.  Set aside.  Wipe pan clean of grease and brown the hamburger, seasoning with salt and pepper, until cooked through.

In a separate bowl, combine the remaining ingredients (except the beans) to create the sauce.  Here's where you can double it if you're feeling kinda saucy.

Drain and rinse all the beans except the pork and beans, and pour into a crock pot, along with the bacon, onion, hamburger and sauce.  Stir to combine and cook on low until warmed through and flavors have melded.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Still Afloat

I can't believe that after six weeks this balloon is still floating high in my living room. I've decided not to take it down, I want to see how long it will survive.

Happy 4th of July everyone, I hope you get to enjoy it with family and friends.

Caleb, I can't wait to play and enjoy the long weekend with you. As soon as you wake up from your nap, I mean.
And I really really REALLY hope that you aren't afraid of fireworks!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Thai Cucumber Salad

I follow a couple hundred blogs using Google Reader.  Most of them are written by ladies and gentleman that are just like me, amateurs with an interest in making good food for their families and trying to take pretty pictures of said food.  Some of the blogs, however, are really amazing.  Beautiful photography, complicated recipes and writing styles that far surpass my own.

The moral of the story is with these fancy blogs, that I never attempt their delicious-looking recipes.  Many times, the ingredients are too exotic and/or expensive to justify the purchase for (potentially) one dish.  But mainly, I'm intimidated by the sheer awesomeness of these superior food bliggity bloggers. 

Earlier this week, a recipe came around on the fantastic blog Use Real Butter that I could not only handle, but that I knew my family would like, hence this Thai Cucumber Salad was recreated in my own kitchen.  So head on over to URB if you want to see some beautiful food styling and landscape photography, 'cause we all know you ain't gonna find that kinda quality picture takin' in this joint.

Source:  Use Real Butter


4 T sugar
2 T rice wine vinegar
½ t salt
4 T water
Pinch of red pepper flakes
2 cups cucumbers, roughly peeled, gutted and sliced (1 english or 3 persian)
¼ red onion, sliced thin
¼ cup fresh mint, roughly chopped
¼ cup fresh cilantro, roughly chopped


Combine the first five ingredients in a small sauce pan over high heat. Stir until sugar is dissolved. Let come to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and allow to simmer for one minute. Remove from heat and let cool. Place the cucumber, onion, mint and cilantro in a medium bowl and pour dressing over it, toss to coat.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

June Travels

The second week of June, we took a trip to central Arizona.  Caleb yet again was a wonderful airplane passenger. When he wasn't playing or eating Cheerios, he was napping in my arms (and what mama doesn't love that?).

A scenic view south of Jerome, AZ

Playing in the hotel room

Caleb loved the swinging doors in The Palace restaurant on the Whiskey Row in Prescott, AZ

We also took him swimming for the first time!  The water was a little chilly, and there were several other little kids playing in the water so he was really distracted watching them, but he seemed to like it.  We've taken him several more times since then and each time he's had more and more fun.

We had a great time, I'm so blessed to have a wonderful family :)