Strawberry Drop

This past weekend I tried some high-speed photography and was really happy with how it turned out! To set up this shot, I used a stained piece of wood for the background and the surface and placed the wood by a window so I could get enough natural lighting into the photograph. I filled the mason jar with water and had my dad drop the strawberry into the water while I took the photos.

For this shot, my aperture was 2.5 and my shutter speed was 1/100. If you want to try some photography like this (and I suggest you do!), make sure that your shutter speed is at least as fast as 1/100, preferably faster so that you can freeze the motion of the water droplets. Set your camera on continuous shooting and have someone else drop the object while you fire away!

Hopefully this summer I will have more time to experiment with my photography and try new things out like this :) Let me know if you get the chance to try high-speed water drops- I’d love to see your photos!

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My 18th Birthday

It seems like it has been a really long time since I posted! Things are crazy right now (16 more days of school until graduation!) and I’m trying to get through this last push until summer. Last week I turned 18 which was pretty exciting :) On my birthday, I came downstairs and saw a little box from my mom. In it was this adorable little bird necklace! I have been wanting this necklace for close to a year and was so suprised when I saw it because I didn’t know anyone knew I wanted it! But apparently I shared the necklace on this Christmas post with gift ideas (I’ve now gotten three things off of that list…I didn’t intend it as hints to my family but it certainly worked out!). My mom took me out to breakfast at Starbucks and then drove me to school.

When I got home from school, I saw these flowers from my Aunt. They were really pretty and the vase was super cute.

My youngest sister wanted us to take a picture together because the two of us were wearing matching dresses :)

For dinner, I requested that we go out to eat at the Cheesecake Factory. I’d never been before, but it sounded like it’d be really good and it totally was!

For dinner, my sister and I split a mac and cheese hamburger and ohmygosh it was good! It’s a hamburger topped with fried mac and cheese. I totally want to make them at home! Of course we had to order dessert and the cheesecake was the best I’ve ever had. We ordered three different kinds.

The Original: My sister and I teased our mom for wanting the original because it’s not as exciting as their other varieties, but it was seriously tasty. The filling was perfectly creamy and the “sour cream” top layer gave it a nice tang.

Tuxedo: This was a chocolate cheesecake layer topped by a vanilla layer topped by ganache. It was really good and looked super pretty!

Chocolate Raspberry Truffle: Wow. Smooth chocolate cheesecake with pieces of raspberry and raspberry flavoring mixed in. Absolutely incredible.

So which was my favorite? It’s hard to choose but I would have to say the Chocolate Raspberry followed by the Original and then the Tuxedo. I would have to say that the Cheesecake Factory is definitely my new favorite restaurant!

There’s all of us at dinner :)

I had a really great time on my birthday and am looking forward to a lot of things coming up this year!

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Salad with Maple Mustard Chicken Tenders

Can I let you in on a little secret?

Ok…it’s a really big secret. Here it is:

I am a future Wallyball Olympic athlete. That’s right, and you heard it first!

Ha. Just kidding. There are several things that make that ^ statement ridiculous. First of all, there is not an Olympic Wallyball team. And second, I tend to throw my arms over my head whenever there are object flying around. They don’t even have to be flying at me…I have been known to flinch and protect myself from balls that were a good 20 feet away.

So what is Wallyball? It’s Vollyball with walls! You play in a raquetball room with a Wallyball (very similar to a volleyball) and hit off walls. I played quite a bit of Wallyball this past weekend at a church retreat with my youth group and had much more fun than I thought I would! I did have my moments where I threw my arms over my head to protect myself, but managed to hit the ball a lot (sometimes over the net ;) .

So anyway, before I left for the retreat I made this maple mustard chicken and served it in a salad along with some rolls. Everyone in my family (well besides the 5 year old but she doesn’t like real food ;) really enjoyed it! The chicken is very easy to make, it just takes a little planning because it has to soak in a buttermilk mixture for several hours. It paired very well with the salad and made for a great, easy, light dinner. Well, light if you don’t count the 4 rolls I ate ;)

This chicken has a pretty strong dijon mustard flavor and is made slightly sweet by the maple syrup. I loved the crunchy coating :)

Maple Mustard Buttermilk Crusted Chicken Tenders

Makes about 10 tenders.

Ingredients:

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken tenders

1 cup buttermilk

1/2 cup pure maple syrup

1/4 cup dijon mustard

2 cups panko breadcrumbs (I couldn’t find them so I used plain breadcrumbs)

1/2 cup regular seasoned bread crumbs

1/4 cup whole wheat flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1/4 teaspoon ground mustard

4 garlic cloves, minced or pressed (I omitted this because my mom is allergic)

Directions:

  1. In a bowl, mix together buttermilk, maple syrup, mustard and garlic (if using). Add chicken to a baking dish and pour buttermilk mixture over top to coat. Let soak for 4-6 hours, or overnight. I didn’t have time to do this and they only soaked for about 2 hours. It turned out fine.
  2. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and place a wire rack on top. Spray the rack with nonstick spray. In a large bowl, combine panko, seasoned bread crumbs, flour, salt, pepper and ground mustard.
  3. When tenders have finished soaking, take them out of the mixture and dip them in the breadcrumb mixture, coating the tenders with the breadcrumbs. Put the chicken on the wire rack and spray them with some olive oil or nonstick spray. Bake for 10 minutes, remove from oven, gently flip and mist with spray, then bake for 10-12 minutes more.
  4. Chop them up and serve them in a salad, or eat them as tenders! Enjoy!

Source: How Sweet Eats

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Pioneer Cinnamon Rolls {Updated}

A few of the things that have made me happy this week:

  1. There are 5 days until my 18th birthday!
  2. There 25 more school days until graduation…not that I’m counting…hem hem.
  3. I am officially photographing a wedding this summer! An exciting first :)

4. Instagram. Enough said :)
5. I’m going on a church retreat this weekend which will hopefully be tons of fun!
6. Planning birthday parties (both of my sisters have birthdays coming up soon, too).
7. Sunny weather.
8. We now have 2 working cars in our family!
9. Writing lists.
10. Pioneer Woman Cinnamon Rolls!

Last Christmas I made Pioneer Woman Cinnamon Rolls for the first time and knew that it would definitely not be the last. They are truly one of the tastiest things I have ever had! This Easter I made them again, but experimented with some different methods to see what works best for making these cinnamon rolls ahead of time. The second time around it was definitely easier to make them, and I’m sharing some tips I’ve learned that make these rolls easier to create. I definitely think you should make these very soon…they are sure to bring some happiness into your life :)

Heavenly Cinnamon Roll Recipe

Tips on preparing the dough:

The dough is very easy to make- don’t get freaked out just because you have to use yeast. My only advice for this part of the recipe is to make sure that you leave plenty of time (it takes about 2 hours for the dough to be ready from start to finish). Also, it is easier to work with the dough after it has been in the refrigerator for a while. I always make the dough the day before I need it and it works out great.

Tips on preparing the cinnamon rolls:

The first time I made these, I halved the recipe and got 14 cinnamon rolls. I knew mine must have been larger than Pioneer Woman’s because according to her, I should have been able to make 25. This past time I made them I realized that I hadn’t rolled the dough out long enough (I’d made it too wide). In my opinion, it doesn’t really matter how big these are (I kinda liked the really big ones :), but if you want smaller cinnamon rolls, you need to make sure you roll the dough out pretty long.

Once you have the dough rolled out (on a floured surface), you pour the melted butter on it. This is just going to be messy, but it’s worth it. Rolling up the dough with that much oozy melty butter is a little tricky, but just do your best.

Tips on making the cinnamon rolls ahead of time:

These cinnamon rolls take a while to make, even if you already have the dough ready, which can be tricky for holiday mornings when you need to get going. This past time I made them, I tried two different methods of preparing the rolls ahead of time, and both ways worked great.

  1. Baking them the night before: The day before you need the cinnamon rolls, take your prepared dough, make the rolls, and go ahead and bake them. The next morning, simply heat up the rolls (microwave works great) and make the maple frosting. These rolls actually re-heat really well and, as long as the cinnamon rolls are just from the night before, there’s not really any difference between the re-heated ones and freshly baked ones.
  2. Preparing them the day before: If you really want truly fresh-baked rolls, use your prepared dough to completely make the rolls, except for baking them. Cover the pans with a towel and put them in the fridge. The next morning, simply take the rolls out of the fridge (put them in a warm place to let them rise a bit more while the oven is preheating), and bake them. While they’re in the oven, prepare the frosting.

Both of these methods worked out great for me and allowed me to have these delicious cinnamon rolls ready for a stress-free Easter breakfast before we went to church :)

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My Week in Instagram 1

Ok I am so hooked on Instagram. You. Have. No. Idea. Unfortunately, I don’t have an iPhone. Sad face :( But my dad does, and I borrow his as much as I can to snap Instagram shots :) This week I have been on Spring Break which is wonderful! Here are some things that are happening in my life:

This is my puppy (well he’s middle-aged in dog years but still acts like a puppy), Fenway. Isn’t he cuuuutte? He’s so sweet.

I have been wanting to get business cards for my photography business, and several bloggers have recommended Moo.com, so I decided to check it out. I love them already and I haven’t gotten my business cards yet! They will send you 10 business cards, that you designed yourself, for free. For free people! I love anything that’s free! They will also send you generic sample packs of all their products (business cards, postcards, mini-cards, stickers) for free. Free! I love all their products and am so pumped to see my cards.

I stained a piece of wood for backgrounds for food photos. I got this square piece of wood at Lowe’s for like $5 or something and bought some dark stain. I was kinda scared to stain it, but it was super easy and turned out pretty good. Except the picture is blurry.

I went out and finally used the Williams-Sonoma giftcard I won way back when and bought a Silpat! Apparently these are incredible and food doesn’t stick to them at all. I feel like I could spend all day in Williams-Sonoma…ahhh :)

We had friends in town and went to the Pancake Pantry one morning for breakfast. I love this place! These are the Sweet Potato Pancakes and they are super delicious :) If you are ever in Nashville, you have to eat at the Pancake Pantry!

And then tonight I had the greatest time with my middle sister. We went to see the Hunger Games (ahhh! so good!) and then out to eat. That pretty much wraps up my spring break :) Looking forward to Easter tomorrow and hope you have a wonderful day celebrating with your loved ones!

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