Friday, August 14, 2009

Update for Link

UPDATE: I forgot to put a direct link in the blog for those who might not want to subscribe to a feed! Here you go! The new blog is called Eye of the Beholder. Thanks to Paul for the reminder!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

New Photoblog

I have a new blog, which won't replace this one, but will be where I post my photography, thoughts and techniques, links to other blogs and tutorials. I wanted a little more control over how my blog looks, and am working toward integrating it into a website, so I now have a Wordpress blog. :)

This one will stay here, a place I may come now and then to drop a thought, but will probably for the most part, remain unused except for rare occasions.

If you have subscribed, or want to subscribe, to my blog because you have an interest in my photography, please consider visiting me at my new home :)

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Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Personas for Firefox | Personas by Dawn Allynn

Have you ever used Personas on your Firefox Browser? I love them. I have an addition to Firefox, and to add-ons for it. I discivered Personas a few months ago, and I';m hooked. Lovely way to cheer up your computer with art!

So, yesterday I tried making one of my own. It's a first, and hopefully one of many... come see it! Tell me what you think!

Personas for Firefox | Personas by Dawn Allynn

Taking a Break and Enjoying Family

Looking back toward San Antonio, NM

Ruidoso is a long way from here...

Eye catching meadows brush against the base of stark blue mountains...

The Lava Fields of Fire Valley

I don't do private time as much as I should. But every once in awhile I set aside some time for just me and the family.

This time it was because mom and sister had set aside some time at the family cabin in Ruidoso, New Mexico so that everyone and anyone who wanted to come and enjoy a week or two could come by.

So last weekend the kids and I piled in the car and drove the approximately three hour (with stops) drive to the cabin where Brian, my sweetheart, drove in to meet us. (The photos above are of the long drive between Albuquerque and Ruidoso.)

It was quiet. Not much happened. We lazed around and enjoyed the woodsy peacefulness, and the short rainstorm that blew through. It was great!

I didn't even get many photos. These are all I have, proof that I truly enjoyed a break.

Sunset view over the pines from the porch of the cabin.
Another view from the porch, and it sounds as peaceful as it looks.

Busy Person Seeking Extra Time

I am terrible at time management. I am not so hot at priorities either. I have so much I want to do in such a short space of time that I get lost in it all.

I am a full time office manager, which is where I get my steady paycheck and health benefits. Part time my good friend, Tim Nisly, and I do IT consulting and repair, and this is a fairly decent income to augment my not so hot pay as an office manager. I also do the photography thing, which even if i didn't make a penny I would want to pursue because I love it so much. But these days I am making some decent money in that arena as well.

The problems come when trying to squeeze all the other things I want and need into the spaces left between those three jobs. I need a new camera, and soon, to do some of the work I have been hired to do. One of mine broke, the other isn't in great condition, and I am ready to upgrade anyway. This is about a $3,000 purchase, and I am not making that much money. But it's a priority, so I am going to make it happen by July if I can. This means I need all my jobs.

I want to clean up my yard at home, I want my relaxation space to be... well, relaxing. But this takes time and daylight, something I see little of after I get home after dark. I can live without this one, but part of me yearns.

I want to attend gallery shows held by my friends and contacts. This is important because it is the right thing to do, and smart if I want to show myself. But I seem to be working every time soemthing good is going on. I need to figure out how to make at least some of the shows.

I want to spend time with my family, whom I love dearly. Brian works all week out of town, and my kids are on the go most of the time, so weekends are it. But I have had most of my best paying photo gigs on weekends, so we compromise. (We went to Ruidoso this past weekend, as you can see in my last post. so I am at least working on things in this area.)

I have physical therapy for my shoulders (rotator cuffs) twice a week, which is helping, but taking time out of my office job, which I need to make ends meet. I also need my shoulders, so the therapy, for now, is the priority.

My blogs. I want to keep up with my blogging, my Twitter, my posts that keep me in the lop with my friends, my networks, and my family. It's not face-time, but at least it's contact.

Then I have my chickens and ducks, my dogs and cats, my laundry, housekeeping, and cooking. Visiting my mom and dad, getting my car in for an oil change, getting my hair cut, finding time to buy a new pair of jeans because my last ones are torn, keeping in touch and sending packages to a sick friend, buying groceries, cleaning out the shed I have sworn I'd clean for two years, doing the shoots with the four models I keep trying to squeeze in......


I need a personal assistant to keep me straight and tell me what to do.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Local Growers Offer Fresh Choices in Fun Atmosphere

I'd like to say I was hip enough to find the Albuquerque Nob Hill Growers' Market on my own. But if I am to be truthful I must admit that, like most of the wonderful places and things I have discovered, this discovery came to me from someone already "in the know".

Recently I met a wonderful fellow by the name of Lloyd Kreitzer because of a photography assignment given to me by Local Flavor Magazine. Lloyd grows fig trees at his Albuquerque home, (among other things, such as grapes and pomegranate trees, he is a wunderkind) that come from heirloom 100 year-old stock.

Lloyd and I had discussed his fig trees during that shoot, as well as some pomegranate trees that he swears will thrive where I live in the East Mountains. He still had a few of these trees left, so he said he'd meet me at the Grower Market where he'd be on Thursday (last week) and I could pick it up there.

Things didn't work out with meeting Lloyd, his back was giving him problems that day. But I can't tell you how lucky I was to show up anyway. I don't know what I expected, maybe some small grungy version of a community yard sale, but what met my eyes and ears was something different altogether.

The market is at a smallish park which can be found at the corner of Morningside Drive and Lead Avenue. I used to live just down the street from this park and would take the kids there to play in the very nice play ground while I sat in the very nice grass to read. (you can see the playground in the background here.)

The market opens (or starts) at 3:00 and ends at 6:30. A wide sidewalk winds it's way down the center of the park, and this is where the marketers set up their tables and goods.

The vendors set up tables, sometimes tablecloths, and sometimes portable canopies. The fruits of their labors, (and vegetables, and produce, and bread, and some wonderful honey.... I bought mine as a slab of honeycomb.) I hadn't been there ten minutes and I realized what a treasure this place was. Not simply a farmers market, but a refreshing combination of that and a neighborhood social.

Time to meander and enjoy, taking in the day, the park, the kids playing overlaid with the cool tunes of the fellow with the guitar playing at one end of the market.

Here you don't just pick up some beets to make for dinner, you talk to the fellow who grew them. You know where they came from, what kind of fertilizers or pesticides they may have applied to their crop.

When you buy plants from one of these people to put into your own garden, you can get some real and good advice on how to make them flourish.

It's not just a shopping experience, it's relaxing, and feels good to be here.

And here's the real benefit: by buying locally you are supporting your local growers and infusing your economy in a very healthy fashion.

Because smaller plots attract fewer pests and require less pesticides local farmers local farmers can often keep the soils healthier. And since the product is grown locally less fuel and refrigerant is used shipping it all the way across the country. It's fresher, not infused with chemicals to keep it from going bad, not picked to early.
The real benefits are to us as the buyers, and to the local farmers and agricultural people we support and keep in business. Stimulating the economy up close and personal with your own neighbors.

As you can tell, I was, and am, impressed. So, another call to Lloyd helped me find Georgia Daves, the energetic woman who puts all this together. (Pictured in the Yellow apron with her son where they offer some pretty great stuff at their table. )

I asked Georgia some questions about the market, because by now I was picturing myself with herbs from my own garden, and perhaps some of my fresh chicken and duck eggs.

She was knowledgeable, efficient, and sent me on my way at the end of my visit with some paperwork and good advice.

By this time my arms were also full of produce, and I had in my hand a yummy cup of auga fresca (a fresh watermelon drink I am craving even as I write this.)

There's more photos below. (Click on any photo to see it larger.) I am sure to take more, because I'll be going back. Maybe I'll take my niece with me and let her play in the playground while I munch on fresh produce and enjoy the great tunes.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Nature and the City

I know that wildlife can be found in the city, I've seen rabbits here and there, and even an occasional raccoon in the city limits. (Last year I sighted a coyote near my mothers house in a neighborhood just off of the freeway.)

Yet somehow I am always tickled when I see little wild things traipsing about in town. It's a shame they are being pushed out of their own homes, and that in times like these droughts mean that animals like cougars and bears come to town looking for food.

But I am strangely happy to see wildlife wherever it might be, even in suburbia.

So I was happy to see the following little guys nearby at a place I frequent for breakfast. There seems to be quite a few rabbits at this location. There are adults, but I have seen almost eight separate youngsters, all munching happily on the bight green and well manicured grass and clover that meets squarely with the desert. The desert foliage makes not only a visiable wall, but offers quick cover and protection for the cuties.

They were a little leary of me, but as long as I didn't make any sudden movements, and kept to the edge of the grass, they were content to act as if I weren't there.

My patience paid off, and I enjoyed several other birds swooping in for breakfast of their own, and even this Roadrunner. (Who was also strangely complacent about my presence.)

I need to find a blind, and a place to sit near the river or in the mountains all day with my camera and some quiet time. I love wildlife, and need to give myself the chance to photograph them in their own element. Hm, another good thing to add to my "To-do" list.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

A Weekend on The Rails

What a guy!

My sweetie asked me away for a weekend, and let me pick the spot.

I chose Durango, Colorado,where we had one of the best get-aways I have enjoyed since our honeymoon.

Durango is the starting point and home of the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gage Railroad, so we booked some seats and simply had a wonderful day.

Brian stands on the back end of the Parlour Car, where we were seated.

Everyone was super-friendly, and happy to talk about the train they work on. A wonderful piece of history and beauty. The train winds it way up through the mountains toward Silverton.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

For the Love of Poultry

I love chickens. I never intended for this love affair to develop, it was a by-product of my love of photography. One afternoon a few years ago I was on my way home, just before Easter, and I passed one of the local feed 'n seed stores. The sign by the road proclaimed "We have Chicks!" and my foot hit the brake.

I tell myself it was because I wanted to take photos of baby chicks, I enjoy stock photography and I had the idea that what could be cuter than a couple of baby chicks, how fun would that be to shoot? The truth is I love animals of all kinds. And my camera that day was an excuse to indulge in my desire to have a farm... to be Doctor Doolittle. To have just a little taste of what Noah might have felt like.

I didn't ask Brian what he'd think that day, I know he despairs whenever I bring home a new "pet". But he loves me, and he always accepts my adoptees. So, as my two initial baby chicks turned into over a dozen chicks and another ten or so ducks, he helped me on my trek and built me two very nice pens, and converted his well-loved shed into a hen house.

I have had my fair share of predators, everything from coyotes to owls and cats and dogs, but I have mostly figured out how to keep them safe and healthy, (as safe as any poor being can be when you are bottom of the food chain and anything bigger than you thinks you look yummy,) I lose a few now and then. Often to neighborhood dogs whom I rage against, all the while knowing it is really their owners I am angry at. Owners who don't care if their dogs run free in the streets to kill chickens or get run over by cars. Those days make me so sad.

Bu then there are days like my last few, where I go outside to check for eggs. (I don't eat my birdies, but we collect eggs) and find my hens their nests with newly hatched babies. Awww... cutes little fuzzies that chirp and peep and huddle close to mom. Gotta love 'em.

Sometimes I get asked why I keep these guys. Why I spend my money feeding chickens I don't eat, for the few eggs we collect. I don't have a great answer, watching them just makes me feel good. Watching them live and interact day to day. It's soothing, kind of like gardening. Makes me smile. :)

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

A View of Changing Seasons in the 505

So, if you have ever been to Albuquerque, you'll know that one of the most noticeable landmarks is the Mountains, the "Sandias". I grew up under this gorgeous palisade.

It It is, on some very essential level, as much a part of me as my family. I could take 1000 photographs of her throughout the year, and you'd see she looks different every time.

Sandia means "watermelon", and I have heard this range was named so because often in the evenings as the sun goes down the mountain takes on reddish and pinkish hues.

I took this photo last week, right after one of our snow storms (a very mild one). The peak and surrounding crags are dusted with snow, and the radio and television towers almost look like some lofty city looking down on the world below. These towers are not as obvious when there isn't snow, at least not from down below. I loved this view, so I thought I'd share it with you. ::

The snows seem to have surprised everyone, I have heard lots of peeps saying how they can't believe it is snowing in March or April, but it's that unusual this time of year to have some snowfall, even sometimes in the first week of May. Not a lot of it, mind you, but we see it now and again.

What I find odd are the warm days reaching the high 70's, and the following day or two where we have snow and cold enough weather for coats, and then the next week we are back on the 60's and 70's degree range again.

This is more extreme if you take into account the weather differences from Albuquerque, to where I live in the East Mountains, just 20 miles east of where the photo below was taken. The photo to the left is a snowfall we had last week, Saturday April 11th, at my house. This was just three days after the photo below was taken on Wednesday April 8th.

On Wednesday temperatures were in the high 70's (78 at the

airport at one point), by Saturday we had pouring rain in Albuquerque, and wintry weather by any standard at home.

I am by no means complaining, I enjoy variety, even when variety means I'll have no idea how to dress for the weather from one moment to the next.

Today it is warm outside, both at home and here in Albuquerque where I sit at my desk at work. The wind is blowing (creating hell for those of us who have pollen allergies) and is supposed to have gusts up to 45 mph, which is normal with our changing seasons this time of year. I have my office door open, watching the feral kitties outside play beneath my car.

And I bet they too, are enjoying the prettier warm days that April is bringing. :)

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

In Praise of the Dandelion

I love dandelions.

I seem to be one of the few in this category, for most people, it is a weed, to be scorned and destroyed at every opportunity. I can see why, if what you are seeking is a wide expanse of lawn that is unmarred by anything other than long pristine shafts of green grass.

The dandelion is a singularly determined species, hard to eradicate under the best of circumstances. The more you try to make it disappear, the more of them you'll see. ("What's a dandelion digger for?" a dandelion asked. "It’s a human invention to help us reproduce," another dandelion replied.)

I don't have a lawn, I have considered one, but the earth friendly person in me who hates to waste water just can't see trying to grow a lawn in the desert. It feels wasteful.

So I admire the dandelion, with all it's wonderful beauty and uses.

What uses? yeah, there a a ton of great things to do with dandelions, (if you haven't fertialized or poisoned them, mind you):

According to the UNM dandelion's are a rich source of vitamins A, B complex, C, and D, as well as minerals such as iron, potassium, and zinc, and in traditional medicine people have used dandelion roots and leaves to treat liver problems. Also, Native Americans have used dandelion's to make liquid concoctions to treat kidney disease, swelling, skin problems, heartburn, and stomach upset. UNM also mentions that Chinese medicinal practitioners have traditionally used dandelion to treat digestive disorders, appendicitis, and breast problems (such as inflammation or lack of milk flow), and in Europe, herbalists incorporated it into remedies for fever, boils, eye problems, diabetes, and diarrhea.

Prodigal Gardens a website that specializes in medicinal herbs and wild foods, has some great recipes, including:

Cream of Dandelion Soup
Pumpkin-Dandelion Soup
Dandelion Egg Salad
Dandelion Pasta Salad
Split Pea-Dandelion Bud Soup
Dandelion Blossom Syrup
Dandelion Baklava
Dandelion Blossom Cake
Dandelion Blossom Pancake
Dandelion Cornbread
Dandelion Mustard
Dandelion Vinaigrette
Dandelion Chai
Roasted Dandelion Root Coffee Ice Cream

And if you are a wine connoisseur, you can't forget Dandelion Wines.

So, up with the dandelion, I say. Healthy, useful, and always pretty as a bouquet in a tiny vase on my kitchen bar, it is less a weed to me than the grass I won't have because of water conservation issues.

Dandelion Tea, anyone?

Friday, March 27, 2009

Spring Wedding

The more I do weddings, the more I love them. It is wonderful to be a part of such wonderful affirmations of love, I never fail to be humbled by the experience.

Spring is a favorite time for me to shoot weddings, I can understand why it is such a popular time to do vows.
Blooming flowers, warm weather that beckons everyone outside to celebrate new life, it is the perfect time to say I do and consecrate a new beginning.

I was lucky this past week to be invited to photograph a wedding for a long time friend and her now new husband. The Anderson wedding was held outside in the courtyard of an Albuquerque hotel, and it couldn't have been more beautiful.

The Anderson wedding was held outside in the courtyard of an Albuquerque hotel, and it couldn't have been more beautiful.

The dress was lovely, a dreamy concoction of embroidered satin and lace, a gauzy veil and classic shoes, and a glamorous tiara to top it all off.

Two of the gorgeous younger girls walked down the aisle shyly, strewing flowers for the brides walk to the alter.

The handsome groom escorted his wife, how could he help but notice how happy she was?

The reception lasted late into the evening, with dancing and toasts by many of the family members and friends. The romantic glow wasn't just an effect of the camera, the joy of the couple was palpable, and shared by everyone lucky enough to be there.

It was a sweet wedding, and a sweet couple. Lucky me to be the photographer. Pardon the pun, but I definitely got to have my cake, and eat it too!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Wild About Kitties

In my work life I am a person of many coats, I do many different things to not only earn a living but to express myself in how I am growing professionally.

While photography gets me out quite a bit these days, it is not as social as I might like, and when I am doing my IT work I am usually working by myself in a closet with a sever somewhere without much chat time with real people.

This sad trend seems to apply as well to my daily hours as an office manager at an insulation company, where I can go days without seeing another human being in my office space.

This can sometimes make Dawn a lonely individual who just wants some company.

Strangely enough I have found some enjoyment and some unexpected friends in some nearby feral cats who come to my office every day.

In the beginning they were distant, nervous and unwilling to come close, but daily feedings and fresh water have brought them to my door every day as I drive up, and lately even into my office. (they have been known to peer over my desk at me as long as I don't move to suddenly). The plan is to catch them soon and have them spayed and neutered and given shots, and let them go again where I hope they will continue to brighten my day as my little feline friends.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Joy: What Makes Your Heart Happy?

My entry for this weeks photo challenge from the Round Robin Photo Challenge is not a work of art or great beauty. I had to beg a plead with Brian to even get a quick angry looking shot. He is not a vain man, posing for camera's is not his thing. But he is what makes my heart sing.

My life had been a series of disasters and bad choices before Brian. I wasn't open to love, I was angry, resentful, and had been depressed for so long I didn't know there was another way to feel. Finding Brian was truly Grace. Pardon me for saying such an overly used mantra, but he gave me a new leash on life. And that is the truth.

He also took my two boys in, as if they were his own, supporting them in all the ways a father can. He's been there through the years in so many ways, and even as one of them has left home he still reaches out to him to make sure he's doing okay, offering assistance if he's needed.

He opened his own children's lives up to me, and made my little family grow from three of us to seven. I have been filled with experiences I could never have hoped for before I became a part of this family.

Brian has not only loved me, he's supported me. In my sometimes wildly swinging moods, my health issues, my drive to become a photographer or a home schooling mother, or whatever is strong in my heart. It doesn't matter of it is his kind of thing. He supports me because it's important to me, and that is all that matters. He's given me the courage more times than I can count to stick my neck and out risk, to do what I want to do, because I have him there behind me.

Recently he had a heart attack, and we've both been so lucky that he is still here. So I am grateful for every day I get with him. We are planning our wedding for Valentine's Day, and I am the luckiest girl alive.

So, again I apologize for the bad photo, he's really a cheerful and handsome looking guy when you are not pointing a camera at him. This is the photo I was able to get, and it has to be enough, because he is my Joy... I have Brian, and he makes my heart happy :)

Wednesday, February 04, 2009


A friend sent me this message via email, his answers were very cool, and had great depth. He doesn't have a blog, and so this wasn't public he sent it to me, so I don't feel good about sharing his answers. But I thought I'd fill it out, and invite you to do it yourself in your own blog, and leave a link in my comment section so I could visit and see how you filled it out.


1. What person in your family are you most like, and why? I am probably most like my mother. I have my fathers mannerisms, but many of my core values, interests, and habits are most like my mother.
2. How many "really close friends" do you have? Hmm.. if I don't include family and my sweetheart Brian, I'd say about five.
3. Are you happy with the direction that your life is going in? What would you change? I am very happy with my life. In romance, family, friends, and with my work I seem to really be one of the luckiest people I know. What would you change? I think in my photography I need to get more focused, develop a plan and some goals so I am still happy with where I am at in five years :)
4. What have you accomplished, recently? I helped put together and host a huge network party last Friday for the Photography Industry Networking Group, and it was a huge success. :)
5. Did you make a New Years resolution? If so do you think you will stick to it? Yes, and yes. I said I would eat healthier and start exercising some. I think I'll stick to that. I also want to put a business plan in place, and I just need to seek some help for that one.
6. What are you most looking forward to this year? My wedding on Valentine's day! Woot!
7. What are you least looking forward to this year? I can't think of a single thing.
8. What makes you a good friend? I enjoy being there for my friends, I go out of my way to give them support and help when they need it, they always know they are cared about.
9. What's your favorite room in your house, and why? My bedroom. It's a sanctuary, relaxing and comfortable.
10. If you had two weeks to go anywhere in the world, where would you go? What a decision. I'd want to go to Ireland, I have always dreamed of going, but I think I'd have to go back to Italy, because I miss it so very much.
11. If you were given a million dollars, to spend only on someone(s) how would you spend it? I'd have to think about that. I'd like to find a way to help single mom's, but one million doesn't go far, so I'd need a way to make that money keep making money from itself so it'd go further.
12. If you could turn into any animal at will, which animal would that be? A bird, so I could fly where I wanted to go and see the world from up high.
13. Name three things you consider really bad manners. Not offering to help someone in need (like someone with their hands full when a door needs opening). Parking in a handicap zone when you're not handicapped. Going to the 15 items or less isle with 25 or more items. (Arg!)
14. When was the last time you said thank you to someone and really meant it? Friday Night, to my assistants Sabrina and Crystal at the Networking Party.
15. What do you really like about yourself? I am unusual, creative, and authentic :)

Tasty Dieting

A few weeks ago my fiance, who is only 42 years old, had a heart attack. I know, right? He's awfully young to be having a heart attack! Well, we figured it was coming one day, his father had his heart attack at the same age, and three bi-passes. I've been a terrible nag for six years trying to get him into the doctor, but he just won't hear of it. I think Brian just figured maybe he'd see if he'd get lucky.

Well, in a sense, he did, he didn't die of the heart attack.

Now we are on a low fat, low sodium, low cholesterol diet. That with medications and exercise is supposed to keep him from repeating the attack. I say "we" because even though I did not have a heart attack, I feel that not only will the diet be good for me, but it will help me to see what he's going through in a culinary sense and spur me to work harder to cook good foods.

And how.

It has been a terrible struggle. I am a salt addict, and no slouch when it comes to consuming fat-filled yummies. Try making a meatloaf that's low in fat and sodium and tastes good. I tried, it is not easy.

Chicken and fish are easier, but he gets so tired of those things. Never much of a vegetable person he is now exchanging his 80% red meat diet for veggies when I cook them, more whole grains, more white meats. Even the "Healthy Choice" foods are too high in sodium most the time. Pre-made meals and fast food are for the most part a thing of the past.

The other night I made a wonderful soup however, and I thought I'd share it with you. Even my kids, who hate asparagus and broccoli came back for seconds and thirds.

Heart Healthy Creamy Asparagus/ Broccoli Soup (serves approximately 8)

2 cups tender Asparagus
2 cups broccoli (with stems)
1/4 cup white or yellow onion
3 cups sliced mushrooms (any kind, I used baby portobello)
1 sweet potato (baked or microwaved until soft)
1 1/2 cup spinach
1 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp lemon crystals (available at the grocery in spice section)
2 tbsp virgin olive oil
16 oz low sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 cup yogurt
1/2 tsp black pepper
2 tbsp flour

Chop fine the asparagus, broccoli and onion, put in a frying pan with the olive oil until bubbling, then simmer until all pieces are tender, add black pepper, thyme, lemon crystals, and 1/2 of the wine. stir 3 minutes and add mushrooms, stir thoroughly and cover. Simmer, stirring occasionally until mushrooms begin to soften.

Scrape insides of sweet potato into a blender or food processor with the spinach, add 1 cup of the chicken broth and blend until smooth. Add vegetable mixture to blender and mix, adding broth when needed to keep it moving, until smooth. Pour into a large soup pot with the remaining broth and simmer on low until hot, add yogurt and stir well.

Add one or two tablespoons of flour to the skim milk (while cold) depending on how thick you'd like your soup. Whisk until there are no lumps, and add slowly to simmering soup, stirring constantly for about two minutes.

Serve immediately. Can be garnished with fresh chopped green onion, a dollop of low fat or fat free sour cream, and a dash of red chili powder if you'd like to add a spicy kick. (These items are not included in the nutritional information.)

Vegetarians can substitute vegetable broth for the chicken broth to make it vegetarian.

Hope you like it as much as we did. Feel free to make changes that suit you and your family, let me know what you come up with if you do :)

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Weekend Assignment : Book Connections

I haven't done assignments from other blogs in a long time. Probably because of this. However, sometimes when you have too much going on, the thing to do is step back and do something you'd like to do. :)

So, I popped over to Outpost Mâvarin (via Mike's Blog, because I noticed he had done the assignment as well) and decided to do the Weekend Assignment.

The assignment is:

Weekend Assignment #252: Where do you get books from?

The answer for me is as wide and varied as my interests.

I do most of my buying at local thrift shops, and second hand book stores, depending on what I am looking for.

With thrift shops I peruse the aisles filling my basket with whatever looks good until there's no more room in the basket or no more money for more books. I love to read, so there is a great deal that will interest me.

At used book stores I tend to have in mind books I'd like to have. For instance, if I have an entire series I'd like to own that is already in print, I'd go to Page One, or Page One 2. I can usually find what I want, in good shape, at a lower price. Which means I can buy more books. Which is huge for me because I buy so many books.

Lucky me, I have family and friends who read almost as much as I do, so many of my books are hand-me-downs. Sometimes I pass these books on, but most the time if I love the book I keep it. I am a book collector, and I have read many of my books two or three times, sometimes as often as seven or eight.

Sometimes I go to the big book stores, like Borders. But those are usually when I need a technical or how to book I don't expect to find used. Perhaps a Photography book, or a Dreamweaver Manual. These are infrequent forays, I probably visit these places less than once a year.

My mother recently bought a Kindle book, ( an e-book reader, or an embedded system for reading electronic books) which I have some interest in. She gets her books online at Amazon, and is very happy with it because it can literally store thousands of books in a tiny space. But she is limited in which books are available right now, and it is expensive. So this will likely be something I wait many years to see if it is practical for me.

Extra Credit:
What was the last book you read, and why?

I am currently reading "Tigana" by Guy Gavriel Kay, because I enjoy a good fiction book to take me away from the realities of my life. And "Tigana" so far is a very, very good book. :)


Thought I'd share a few :)


I am exhausted.

This has been a difficult winter for me.

My father had to have surgery in December to have cancer removed, and he is still having issues we think may be related.

Brian, my fiancé, had a heart attack about two weeks ago, and we've been keeping an eye on that.

My son has been chronically sick since September and we now have an appointment at the Infectious Disease Clinic to try and figure out what it is. (they think it may be something like Lyme disease or some odd something. Nobody knows.) We waited two months for the appointment we had, but missed it when Brian had his heart attack.

I have my wedding in eighteen days, and friends wedding I am photographing in 32 days, a huge event I am helping put on tomorrow (for roughly 150 people) my regular job plus all my photography work I do when I can. None of it is something I don't want to do or take care of, but it is all adding up.

I whine, and In know it. :) I am not looking for sympathy or pats on the back, just feels better sometimes when you write it down.

Monday, January 26, 2009

A Second Look At A First Resolution - Putting My Heart Into It

Like many others I decided to go on a diet this year as part of my New Year's Resolution. I am about 40 pounds over where I'd optimally like to be, and I am not that good at dieting, so I tried to make the resolution something I could stick to by saying I wouldn't "diet" per se, but push myself toward a healthier lifestyle with eating and exercise. A little at a time, small steps I could handle. I wasn't doing badly, but there also was no epiphany either. If I was going to lose any weight or get any healthier it would definitely be over an extended period of time at this rate.

Then something happened that made me take a second look. And not for myself.

My fiancé of six years and I decided this past fall to finally tie the knot and make it official on Valentine's Day. Part of what made me want to lose weight is hoping to be prettier for him on our wedding day. He's also been talking about working on his weight and some other issues, but the fact that he's on the road and eats nearly 75% of his meals at fast food joints doesn't help. I haven't worried too much about it, he wasn't worried and I love him as he is (he returns the compliment generously, telling me frequently how beautiful I am, which doesn't motivate me to stop all my bad eating habits) so we've just kind of gone about our merry ways, every unhealthy one of them.

Then, on Friday the 16th, I got a call from Brian that they were going to medivac him from Roswell to the Presbyterian Hospital. My sweetie was having a heart attack.

He told me it was a minor attack, thank goodness or I would have fallen apart. I managed to keep it glued together while I waited for his plane to come in, where I ran to his side to hold his hand and listened to the doctor tell us it wasn't minor at all. If he hadn't sought treatment when he had, the results could have been very grim indeed.

I went to my mother's Friday night so I could be closer to the hospital, where I fell asleep quickly from exhaustion. Saturday I went to his room and helped his wash his hair, helped him eat past all the tubes and wires, and considered how lucky I was to have him. Saturday night I went home to our bed, where I cried most of the night in terror... how close I came to losing him, how real the loss could be, it was a wake up call.

The next day we discussed what had gone through his mind during the attack, and what was going through mine. We have five children between the two of us, three still at home. He knew his death would mean leaving us not only broken from his loss, but in serious financial need. That worried him. I could care less about the finances, but trying to picture the future without him made me feel like I was standing on the top of the Empire State Building with no railing... in a high wind storm. But I couldn't forget how important the kids are, losing either of us would be too hard on them, and we both knew some changes have to be made.

With his discharge and gradual recovery over the past week we have had to change everything in a radical way I would never have considered before the attack. He quit tobacco which I never thought he would do for anyone or anything. And no more fast food, a serious low sodium diet, low fat, high in all the greens and grains and heart healthy foods that we can cram into his picky eating habits. He's been sooo good. He even eats oatmeal now, which he hates. To support him I eat all the same things and have all the same restrictions. Not only does it help me know what he's going through so I can work to make meals appealing, but it accomplishes my original resolution in a way I had never expected.

Funny, but when I started my diet it was mostly for me, and a little for him. I wanted to be healthy and leaner, I wanted to be thinner for the fellow I love. Now it is mostly for him and I am benefiting. Hopefully we will both get a little leaner, but in the long run what I really want is time. Years more to snuggle happily with the man I'll be calling my husband in a few weeks.

Now that's a resolution worth sticking to ;)