Friday, December 30, 2011

Downtown Roanoke at Night in Black and White!

So, I bought myself a new camera for Christmas! Woo hoo!! I worked and saved for a long time to buy this camera and even though it is freezing cold at night this time of year, I LOVE night photography and wanted to take my new camera for a spin to see what she could do.  Downtown Roanoke is small but at night it's beautiful and I thought that would be a great place to start for some night photography.  I put a few of the photos up I took last night here for you to enjoy!  Sorry for the rhyming blog title... ;)

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Day 3 of No Processed Foods

Hello everyone- thanks for keeping up with mine and my husband's 2 week journey with out processed foods!  I am currently ONLY on day 3... This is going to be a long 2 weeks!!  Today, the third day, has so far been the hardest and here's why.

Yesterday I had a death in my family- my uncle Billy.  Billy was an amazing guy- always so much fun.  He was one of the first ones to get up and dance at my wedding.  He was the one who got me into archery and helped me pick out my re-curve bow.  I would drive up to Christiansburg from Roanoke just to shoot my bow with him at the archery range.  He was also an avid animal lover and spoiled his dog Tallulah (aka Lulers!) like she was his baby.  He was my favorite uncle and will be dearly missed. 

When I get upset one of the things that I reach out for is junk food.  It's a terrible habit I know.  I want ice cream, cookies or generally anything with chocolate in it.  And then I want to follow up the sugary sweet taste with something salty and savory like cheese Doritos.  mmmmm....  Doritos are my favorite junk food by far besides chocolate.  And I was definately upset yesterday and I just wanted to come home and eat something that was terrible for me but I couldn't.  My sweet husband gave me a pass for the day if I wanted it.  But, I said no thanks and so Stephen fixed me a healthy no processed foods dinner :) 

Yesterday I attended a work appreciation lunch for a committee of which I am a member and I what I could eat at the restaurant was very limited.  It was an Italian restaurant, so pasta and pizza were everywhere.  What did I have for lunch?  A salad with cucumbers, mushrooms, onions and tomatoes with a small amount of balsamic vinegar for dressing.  No croutons!  Several people looked at me like I was insane.  What?  You come to a buffet restaurant and eat a salad?

So, want to know what we bought at the grocery store this week?  All I can say is eating healthy is expensive!!

Carrots, Cauliflower, Asparagus, Red Bell Peppers, Kale, 2 bags of apples, Bananas, Sharp Cheddar and White Cheese Block, Whole Turkey Breast Bone-in, Shredded Cheese, White and Red Onions, Red Potatoes, Russet Potatoes, Spinach, Black Walnuts, Dry Lima Beans, Dry Black Beans, Dry Red Beans, Dry Kidney Beans, Dry Lentils, Cranberries, Eggs, Fresh Thyme, Tomatoes, Dry 16 bean mix, Squash, Strawberries, Blueberries, Rolled Oats, Portobello Mushrooms, oranges and a few other odds and ends. 

One important cooking lesson I learned so far- soak your dried beans overnight first before you cook them!  Otherwise they stay crunchy :)     

The yearly company Christmas party is tomorrow night.  I love going- it's so nice to see everyone dressed up!  I work in a lab, so I wear t-shirts and jeans all day everyday and so does just about everyone else I work with.  My husband and I will be there all dressed up, not able to eat pretty much any of the food and not drinking any alcohol.  My friend at work told me she was bummed I wouldn't be drinking anything because she said I get so much funnier when I drink.  Oh well!  There's always next year!!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

You ARE What You Eat

Do you know what you are eating?  

Sure, you know it's a cheeseburger and fries, but do you know how it was made and what is really in it?  Do you know how the animals were treated?  Well, that's another story... don't get me started :)  I think that there is an immense amount of truth in the statement you are what you eat.  What you eat is one of the few choices in life that you have complete control over on a daily basis.  Most people in America don't take advantage of this choice- I know that I don't! 

Stephen and I just recently signed up for Netflix and there are tons of documentaries and I have found that I absolutely love documentaries.  I have been watching all of their awesome food related movies- Food Inc., Food Matters, Forks Over Knives.  These documentaries have vastly changed the way that I look at the food that eat, where my food comes from, how it's made and the nutritional value of the food I choose to put in my body.  The power of nutrition is amazing if you utilize it.  If you visit Kroger, Walmart, Food Lion or any major food store you will see overwhelming choices of food.  I mean, if you want to buy something simple like cereal you have so many choices you can hardly look at them all!  Fruity pebbles, Cheerios, Frosted Flakes, Rice Crispies, Kashi and the list could go on for another 10 pages and this is just for cereal.

One of the most important take away messages I got was that processed food is generally almost always not good for you.  What counts as a processed food?  In my research I have come across many definitions and descriptions of what a processed food actually is but I am going to define processed food as anything that can be bought in the store that doesn't look like its' origin.  If it doesn't look like it was grown in the field then it has been processed in some manner.

My husband and I are embarking on a 2 week journey where we will be cutting out all processed food in our diet starting Monday. This is going to be tough for both of us!  Do I think we will continue to eat this way after the 2 weeks are up?  Probably not completely.  But I know that we will learn a lot and take away valuable lessons about our personal food consumption and I am almost absolutely certain that we will physically feel better.

We sat down and made a list of things we can and can not eat over the next 2 weeks with very few exceptions.  Feel free to join in on our adventure and I will keep you updated on how our 2 week journey is going!  I have listed below our "Can" and "Can Not" eat list below for your enjoyment/sympathy!!    

Can Eat
Fresh fruits and vegables
Dry beans
Deli meat or whole (turkey)
Can Not Eat
Anything packaged/boxed
Anything canned
Anything frozen
Chocolate/refined sugar
Restaurant food

Notable Exceptions
Almond Milk

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Jack Pet Portraits l Roanoke VA Pet Photographer

Jack was such a happy boy!  His mom and dad wanted to get photos made for Christmas cards- what an awesome idea!  I met them all at Wasena Park in Roanoke for a few hours of photos and play time.  We all had a great time- enjoy looking through Jack's photos!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Roanoke Valley SPCA Pet Project l Roanoke VA Pet Photography

The Roanoke Valley SPCA Pet Project book is complete!  Here are just a few pages from the book :)  Books are for sale for $87.50 each with $20 from each book donated back to the RVSPCA.  Contact me by email or contact form on my website to purchase a copy!  Special thank you to Scott Willhite to designing the awesome cover!!

Together, for this book, we raised over $1,300 for the Roanoke Valley SPCA!!!!!!  Pat yourselves on the back :)

Here's just a sneak peek of a few of the pages in the book!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

How to Make Chocolate Butter Cream Icing

This recipe makes the most creamy chocolate butter cream icing you have ever tasted.  It's so chocolatey and smooth!  It's heaven to eat just on a spoon or on fruit... ok, you can put it on cupcakes too :)

What you will need:
1. 2 cups bakers cocoa
2. 4-5 cups confectionery (powdered) sugar
3. 2 cups of butter (4 whole sticks), softened
4. 1 - 1 1/2 cups of whole or vitamin D cow's milk
5. 1 tsp. vanilla extract
6. Hand or table mixer
*This recipe makes enough icing for 20-25 cupcakes

Step 1.  Cream your butter! 

Creaming butter is an easy step to make all of your baked goods or yummy toppings nice and fluffy.  All you have to do is place your softened butter into a large bowl with about 1 cup of powdered sugar and beat.  You can use granulated sugar, but your icing won't be quite as fluffy.  If your butter is straight out of the fridge, soften it carefully in the microwave 5-10 seconds at a time.  You don't want it to start melting! 

Slowly add in, at about 1/4 cup at a time, the powdered sugar as you beat your butter on a slow speed.  Continue this until you have added all of the 1 cup of powdered sugar and then increase your mixing speed gradually until you reach a medium to high speed.  By this point, your butter should be nice and fluffy!  Just a hint- use a spoon to mix in the powdered sugar by hand first before you use the mixer or you will create a cloud of powdered sugar in your kitchen :)

Creamed butter
Step 2. Add in 1 tsp. of vanilla extract

Step 3.  Add in the Cocoa, Milk and Powdered Sugar

This is where the recipe starts to look like icing!  Slowly add in 1/2 cup at a time of the powdered sugar and cocoa.  I would also suggest at this step to use a spoon to mix in the powdered sugar and cocoa by hand first to avoid making a mess!  Stir on low and gradually increase to medium speed until everything is mixed well.  Add small amounts of milk, 1/8 - 1/4 cups, at a time to keep the icing creamy.  There is no set amount of milk to use- just use as much as needed to get the consistency you want.
Cocoa Powder

Confectionery Sugar
 Step 4.  Making the Icing Fluffy

Now you just want to beat the icing at high speed once everything is mixed in.  This will make your icing light and fluffy!  Continue beating until you get your desired fluffiness. And that's it!  Oh wait... Step 5...

Finished Icing!!
Close up of finished icing
Step 5. Lick the mixers!!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Drew and Cari Married! l Roanoke VA Wedding Photographer

I met Cari when we were both in elementary school.  We played travel soccer together but then got separated based on age a few years later, so I didn't see her much for close to 15 years until one fateful day.  I was taking a tour of the building of the company where I now work- I had just gotten hired as an intern when I saw Cari's name tag on her cubicle.  I immediately thought what a small world Roanoke can be because I hadn't seen Cari since we were kids!  I was so glad to be able to catch up with her! 

I was honored to be able to capture all of these amazing moments on their wedding day for them.  Drew and Cari are a great fit for each other in every way :)

You can see the Roanoke Star!!
Fun with sparklers
Drew and Cari were actually already married when they had their church ceremony.  Their pastor for the wedding ceremony in the church was from North Carolina and apparently it is Virginia law that someone from Virginia must marry you.  So, they had a ceremony and actually got married before they got married again in the church.  I told them I would send them a bill for the second wedding :)  Just kidding!
First Dance