Gus Gus

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I love to harass him while he is sleeping…it is pay back for attacking me mid-sleep! I took these photos lat night in the complete dark with only my phone’s flash. I couldn’t sleep but he was basically undisturbed.

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Chipotle takes on Big Food with animated Scarecrow

Agreed.

Beef Runner

chipotle big food scarecrow advertisementDo you remember the 2011 advertisement released from Chipotle restaurants? The one with Willy Nelson singing about progress and science and where Chipotle urged us to go Back to the Start. I wrote a few comments about the controversial campaign on this blog. The company has had a building campaign based on concepts like Food with Integrity and asking us to Cultivate a Better World. As Daren Williams pointed out, Chipotle’s marketing campaigns don’t come with much integrity.

This time, they’re at it again. Chipotle released a video yesterday featuring a Scarecrow working for Crow Foods which represents Big Food in this country. The 3 minute video relies heavily on the depiction that modern food production is an industrial factory process. There are cows and chickens in confinement, being pumped with what is assumed to be antibiotics and hormones. Things which Chipotle denounces in food production.

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Wedding Wednesday: The Accessories

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Jacklyn Johnson, is the owner of Trew Luv and designer of all things beautiful, including headbands, veils, garters and other accessories.  She handcrafts custom items for photo shoots, gifts and weddings.  Whether you need a cute headband for your new baby or a beautiful custom veil for your wedding, Jacklyn can create a pretty one-of-a-kind item for you.  She is the queen of matching and creating accessories to compliment outfits.  Make sure you add her to your planning schedule.  Having her help you accessorize your big day is a definite must!

I met with Jacklyn a couple of months before my wedding and gave her a bag of assorted cow hide and set her loose making my garter.  We also discussed other details she could help with like a flower or veil for my hair, flowers for my flower girls’ hair, sashes for my junior bridesmaids and a flower for my dog’s collar.  I gave her some pictures and a lot of discretion to make some beautiful little accessories for me.

She exceeded my expectations and delivered my unique “can’t hide luv” garter, which was perfect; birdcage veil, equally perfect; flower clips for flower girls’ hair; flowers for Lady’s collar; and sashes for junior bridesmaids.  The quality of the items is next-to-none.  Her passion for creating things shines through her work.  I’m certain these little beauties will last forever, and although I only needed them for one day, they make pretty little keepsakes. The thing that amazed me most was her ability to make my vision come to life and match the colors I had described to her without even having a swatch of the fabric.  I sent her a picture of the junior bridesmaids dresses after ordering them online and the sashes she made matched perfectly! See for yourself below and check her out on Etsy!

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Trew Luv on Etsy: http://www.etsy.com/shop/trewluv

Pomegranate Jelly

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I’m new to canning and due to the science involved and potential food borne illness that can result from veering from time-tested recipes, I choose to use Ball’s recipes: http://www.freshpreserving.com/recipe.aspx?r=52. I’ve included excepts from their recipe (in green) below.
You will need:
3-1/2 cups prepared or bottled pomegranate juice (about 5 large or 2 16-oz bottles)
6 Tbsp Ball® RealFruit® Classic Pectin
1/2 tsp butter or margarine, optional
5 cups sugar
6 (8 oz) half pint glass preserving jars with lids and bands
Note: Wear rubber gloves to keep your hands from being stained.
We didn’t wear gloves and the poms didn’t stain our hands, but during the juicing process it definitely stained my shirt!
Juicing the Pomegranates
Juicing the Pomegranates is the most daunting task if it is your first time. Here I’ve tried explain what worked and didn’t work for us. We juiced six pomegranates from my friends’ tree.
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Preparing the Pomegranates (Poms):

  • Cut open the pom by removing the cap. Slice off the top as you would slicing off the top of a pumpkin for a jack-o-lantern. You must remove all of the seeds (arils) before juicing.
  • Slice down each of the yellowish membrane sections. A pomegranate is split into sections, similar to an orange. Keep that in mind when slicing the fruit into sections along the membranes.
  • Pull the sections apart like an orange and remove the arils. Drop the seeds into a bowl of cold water. This will make the extra membrane float which allows for further separation.

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Drain the seeds by running the bowl through a colander.

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Pick out any membrane that may have gotten caught with the seeds. You must remove all the membrane or the juice will be bitter.

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Pour the seeds into the ricer or into a fine sieve or cheesecloth to juice them.
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The ricer was Tracy’s idea and it seemed to work great until it broke. I’m not sure if it was Joe’s incredible strength or the Ikea ricer’s lack of fortitude. We will never know.
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Cheesecloth came to the rescue and we finished juicing the poms. We were ecstatic to have 3 1/2 cups of juice!
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Making the Jelly

Directions:
1.) PREPARE boiling water canner. Heat jars and lids in simmering water until ready for use. Do not boil. Set bands aside.
2.) PLACE pomegranate juice in a 6- or 8-quart saucepan. Gradually stir in pectin. Add up to 1/2 tsp butter or margarine to reduce foaming, if desired. Bring mixture to a full rolling boil that can not be stirred down, over high heat, stirring constantly.
3.) ADD entire measure of sugar, stirring to dissolve. Return mixture to a full rolling boil. Boil hard 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Skim foam if necessary.
We didn’t experience enough foaming to bother skimming it off, but batches vary and if there is foam be sure to skim it off the top.
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4.) LADLE hot jelly into hot jars leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Wipe rim. Center lid on jar. Apply band until fit is fingertip tight.
Although the jelly was pipingy hot, it set up very quickly! Filling hot jars is critical. Make sure your jars stay hot by keeping them in the dishwasher until you are ready to use them.
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5.) PROCESS in a boiling water canner for 10 minutes, adjusting for altitude. Remove jars and cool. Check lids for seal after 24 hours. Lid should not flex up and down when center is pressed.
We ended up with enough jelly for only five of the six jars. Hmm..maybe we were a little short on juice?! I can’t wait to spread some of this pom jelly on a slice of bread while sitting by the fire reading this winter!

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Thanks Kenzie for helping us document the process by taking phenomenal pictures!

Thank you Gina & Hannah for the fresh poms!

Thank you Joe & Tracy for your help making the jelly and using your kitchen. You know I love to get messy in your kitchen 😉

More Ball canning recipes: http://www.freshpreserving.com/home.aspx

Wedding Wednesday: The Photographer

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You want to grow old together and face it: when you get too old to remember your wedding, all you will have is the photos!

Booking the right wedding photographer is one of the most important steps in the planning process.  Whether your budget is $1,000 or $1,000, my advice  advice is to spend at least 20 percent of your total budget on photography.  It is well worth it and this is not the place to save! Here, I will even do the math for you:

Total Budget   (Photography Budget)

$1,000 ($200)

$10,000 ($2,000)

$24,600* ($4,920)   *average wedding cost in 2012

I was lucky to find Samantha Prather, a very talented local photographer.  I had done some research and looked at several local photographers’ work. Samantha married a friend I went to high school with, so I got to see her stunning work on mutual friends’ Facebook pages and always admired the photos.

Cory and I first met with Samantha in August of 2012.  We had to re-schedule our engagement session because it was too hot on the first date we had scheduled.  It wasn’t as much of a scorcher when we met but it was still a hot summer day.  The shoot was great!  I thought it may be awkward since Cory and I weren’t use to being the center of attention, but she made us feel so comfortable.  She later blogged about the shoot on her website: http://samanthaprather.com/blog/?p=2441.

Samantha is the sweetest person and just a real peach to work with.  Not only is she a talented photographer and the mother of two precious little girls, with a baby boy on the way, but she sincerely cares about her clients and jumps through hoops to make sure they are happy with her work. The first thing I told her when I saw the proofs of our engagement shoot was, ” If I never have another picture of myself, I will be happy!”  She captured our feelings for each other in ways I had never imagined possible.  We were more than excited to have found such a gem and immediately booked her for our wedding.

On June 8, 2013 Samantha showed up to the hair salon where the girls were getting ready.  It turned out to be the hottest day of the year with record high temps!  Samantha photographed the girls getting ready, then the guys, the wedding ceremony, dinner and reception.  I didn’t hire a videographer and ended up not regretting it because her photos tell the story of the whole event, from start to finish.  Again, she captured the mood and every crucial detail that mattered to me as if I had provided her with a checklist (which I hadn’t).  There isn’t a moment that went undocumented.

Although I have hundreds of photos I’d love to share with the world, I will spare you.  I’ve posted a small sampling of her work below.  I thought it was a little ironic how similar some of the engagement and wedding photo poses were.  I guess we are just too predictable!  Enjoy!

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Samantha Prather Photography  http://samanthaprather.com/

http://money.cnn.com/2013/03/10/pf/wedding-cost/index.html

Furry Friday: Lady

This is the love of my life, my dear Lady dog. Words can’t describe how much I love her. I won’t say much else because I’m looking for a book deal and don’t want to spoil it! Pictures are worth a thousand words anyway! Here are a few pictures of my Lady love at our wedding.

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DJ16

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