Monday, December 3, 2012

Peanut Brittle Tradition

The holiday season is always a time for baking and candy making at my folks house.  This year I got to help Mom make some peanut brittle.  I managed to not burn myself by pouring molten sugar and nuts down my leg and it ended up tasting great as well.  A win, win!

Here's Mom's recipe.

2 cups of raw peanuts, with skins on
1 cup of sugar
1 cup of Karo syrup
1 tsp of baking soda

Before you start cover a cookie sheet with foil and grease it with butter.  You need to do this first so its ready for the molten (straight out of a volcano) sugar and peanuts that will arrive shortly.

Mom uses a well seasoned cast iron skillet and we assume other pans work as well and might even be easier than lifting the heavy skillet, but the danger is part of the fun ; )

You add the peanuts,sugar and syrup in the skillet and heat on medium heat stirring all the time to keep from burning the nuts.  Once it has started to boil, you cook it for 16 minutes.  The sugar and syrup will turn a carmelly brown and you'll smell the peanuts roasting. Keep an eye on it as you stir as you don't want it to get too brown.  Once your timer dings sprinkle the baking soda over it and mix it in.  It will foam up and fear will creep in but you can do it.  You move with your molten hot iron over to the waiting cookie sheet.  engage your arm muscles and pour the screaming hot sugar and peanuts onto the cookie sheet. Find a place to set down the skillet quickly and then spread the brittle out with authority so the peanuts are in one layer.  Once that's done tap the cookie sheet on the counter (have pot holders under it) carefully because its hot.  This will release any air bubbles.  Then you wait.  If the you've cooked it for long enough, if its not too humid, if you didn't cook it too long, if you didn't suffer 3rd degree burns, after its cooled, you'll break it up.

You prepare yourself for the ultimate test.  Pop a golden brown bit of deliciousness into your mouth.  The candy is crunchy, sweet, melt in your mouth goodness and the roasted peanuts add that salty edge.  You allow yourself a small piece.  The pretty pieces will go in gift boxes and bags for friends and family.  The stray bits are gathered up and shared amongst the cooks.

Another holiday season is launched successfully.  Thanks Mom 

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Speed of Light

I'm back from a few days filling my eyes and head and heart with new places.  I visited parts of the Hill Country I've never seen before.  I stayed in a little log cabin on a hill without phone service or internet and spent the days running the back roads, looking.  Just looking, to see what I could see. To see what caught my imagination. I found this train car left abandoned in Llano,TX.  It belonged to a tour company at one time that gave scenic train rides.  The company went under and abandoned the train car on a stranded track in the middle of the small town.  It was strickly enter at your own risk and just creepy enough to warrant the climb up into it. The doors were locked at each end of the car to deny entrance.  The light however, flooded the car.  I could hear the racket of the rails and see the back and forth shifting of the riders from years before.  How fast might they have traveled then? Hard to tell.  In my imagination they now travel at the speed of light in their abandoned rail car.  They can tour the world, gawping at the sights, just like I do. Windows wide open to the passing world.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Looking for the story

Even his shadow finds his perfection boring.

I'm taking some time this week to go on a "see what I can see mission".  This is my favorite kind of shoot.  Like Forrest and his box of chocolates, "you never know what you're gonna git".  I'll hit the road with an open mind and heart and see what appears.  Like this surprise from a few weeks ago.

Not exactly what you'd expect to see on a river bank in the hill country and all the more thrilling because of that.

So, I'll spend a few nights in a cabin in the hill country.  Shooting dark skies at night and run the roads during the days to see what might pop up.  Aliens? Wildlife? Quirky hill folk?  Anything could happen.

My Dad mentioned something the other day that has stuck with me.  He said I was just like my Grandmother, Mom's Mom.  Always wanting to "go see".  I mentioned it to my sister and she remembers always taking Grandma on rides on Sundays, always going somewhere.  I never got to know my Grandmother as she passed when I was very little but this is a lovely way to feel the connection despite that.   I'll think of it as my "bear that went over the mountain, gene".  Apparently I come by it naturally.

I'll be sure and share the best finds with you all.  Until then, keep your eyes open.  There are stories happening all around you.

Monday, September 10, 2012

"my attention is upon it"

I was just reading through the latest Studios magazine, drooling over other folks creative spaces, and ran across a quote. Karen Eberle from Orcas Island,WA described how she starts her work process and she says "I enter the studio, turn on the lights, and walk toward the CD player to make a selection. The music for today is French. I light one of my alter candles and repeat a quote from visionary author Jan Phillips: "I have come to do the work and my attention is upon it." I am at peace.

This really struck a chord with me. As a photographer I'm not always going to a specific place to work. I am in many different physical places but when my "attention is upon it" it is always the same magical place. I tell myself "I am aware of the beauty around me" and I can feel the shift in my perceptions. (this is when I need to be careful around cliffs and when its a good idea to have a buddy along to keep you from walking into traffic) If you happen to be with me you'll hear me mutter about the gorgeous light or urging a cloud along. Catching some fleeting bit of story telling or a memory sparked is what makes the magic happen for me. This is why I get antsy if its been too long since I got out to shoot. I need that perception shift on a regular basis. Thanks to Karen Eberle and Studios magazine for helping me remember that today.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Summer Garden

The heat has arrived for the summer here. That means the last of the tomatoes are coming in from Mom and Dad's garden. If Mom had her way that would have stopped a week ago. Dad however can't stand to let one little bit of one go to waste. I think their opinions are swayed by the division of labor in the canning process. I ended up with one little squash on a plant I grew and that was donated to a neighbor for the kind act of mowing my grass while I was on vacation. So this summers tomatoes will have to be savored in hot sauce,tomato sauce, tomato relish,and just regular old canned tomatoes. Summer saved up in a Ball jar. Ever ready to lend that home grown wonderfulness with the pop of a seal.

Don't look now Mom...Dad's picking figs!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Higgledy Piggledy

I love finging quirky places.  Tucked away corners that have found a use.  This little gem of a doorway was just off a main street in Stromness on Orkney.  An awkward spot made to fit. All angles and reused wood.  I love the worn paint and henges.  The palette and whimsy suits be very well.  That's one of the reasons I love travelling with my camera and bringing these bits home with me.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

I'm back!

I had a wonderful trip and I hope some of you were able to follow along with some posts I had made to my Facebook page. Once again my dear friends Shannon and Mario at Scottish Dream Tours made my travel dreams come true. The Highlands and Islands of Scotland were gorgeous. Snow topped mountains, lovely Spring blooms everywhere, gale force winds ; ) what an adventure. The above photograph was taken at St Conan's Kirk on the way to our first stop in Oban. Mario is a talented photographer and we had a lot of fun finding the next "great shot" and making sure we didn't tumbled off a cliff edge. It always helps to have a buddy along. I tend to become very "focused" when shooting and can sometimes lose site of what's going on around me. Just ask some of my friends about the Mexican wrestling match we attended. So, its good to be home. I've been through all my images at least once and I'm sure I'll continue to find surprises in them as I work with them but overall I'm very happy with those I was able to capture. I'll post images here as well as in my etsy shop, Society 6 and flickr (links to the right). I'll also get back in the groove of posting here regularly and let you all share in what I'm seeing. My phone email sign off says "from my little stone cottage in Scotland" to just keep it out there until it happens but for now "from my little cottage in Texas"

Thanks for checking in,


Friday, May 4, 2012


It's funny. When people ask me where I'm going this year on vacation I most often get two responses when I tell them "Scotland again". If the person asking has never been they usually want to know "don't you want to see someplace different this time?" and if they have had the chance to visit they say "can you stuff me in your suitcase" I find myself thinking, what if this is the last trip you get to take, do I really want to miss seeing Scotland one last time? The response is always a resounding, NO! So I'm seeing the Highlands and Islands again this year but in the Spring instead of the Fall. I'll have a "big girl" camera this time and a lot more experience under my belt. I can't wait to get swept away by the beauty, wonder and romance that I find every time I visit Scotland. Be sure and stop back in a couple of weeks. I'll be sharing my finds.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Must be jelly cause ....

You can always tell when Spring and Summer arrive at Mom and Dad's house. There is always something ready to be canned. Dad is growing it and Mom is putting it up. Today was strawberry jelly made special for the grandkids who savor each scarlet dollop. What I would fret over and plan to the nth degree (jelly making} Mom calmly goes about without a worry. Years of experience I suppose and any missteps long forgotten. No anxiety included here. The only thing that goes into the jelly now is yummy ingredients and lots of love. Must be why it tastes so good.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Barefoot Freedom

Were you a run around barefoot kind of kid? Could you walk on asphalt and stickers, hot pavement and rocky beaches? Not me. I am the original tender foot. I even wear socks in the house and not just to keep from sweeping. This perceived fault of mine has created a deep seated envy in me. I wish I didn't have to stop to slip on shoes. I'd have loved to pelt down to the waters edge without a care for shell or pokey bits. Sigh. Maybe that's why this young girl really captured my imagination. As soon as I saw her and her dog flying towards the water, In my imagination, I slipped of my sensible shoes and socks. I was boldly running with them. Ignoring the potential for a debilitating foot mishaps. Slapping my souls on the earth without a care, celebrating my barefoot freedom.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Go There or Then in a Book

I'm sure we've discussed my love of reading in the past. I was time travelling again today in a book. I slipped back in time as I read then surged forward as my phone dinged. Then eased back again to pick up the story. I didn't need a time machine, just a well written story and a willingness to go there. I did and I will, go there every chance I get. What are you reading?

Friday, February 17, 2012

Seed Your Dreams

Seed Your Dreams

Cast them out from your heart
for others to share

Work the fertile soil you find
and enrich the barren ground
with hope

Then reap what your dreams
have borne

Its your garden, get busy

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Dreams of Flight

I'd fly with you, if I only could
said the little porcelain bird

to deep blue pools and far off sands
in dreams we'd never land

I'd fly with you, if I just could
my one true feathered friend

I realized again today why I enjoy making photographs so much. Yes its the beautiful places but so much more as well. I was wrestling with and image I was trying to take. I'd been thinking about it for a while and was trying to make it work and it wasn't. I read a quote from Marc Chagall recently and it hit home again.

"If I create from the heart, nearly everything works; if from the head, almost nothing."

Once I let go of the wrestling, something else came in. A story, a line of poetry a bit of whimsy. As I took down this bowl to dust it I rediscovered a found feather and the little transfer ware bird began her story. I wish I could describe what happens when a story begins. I'm sure you creative folk have similar experiences. As you create from the heart something extra gets added and passed on for others to see and appreciate. This image is another reminder for me to let go and let the stories take flight and capture them if I can.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Worlds Collide

I spent the night in the country indulging my love of the night sky. I could see the metropolis I lived in on the horizon casting its glow like a rising sun. Each small town nearby had its own small dome of electric light it sent into sky, as if it announced and protected them from intrusion. I sat in the dark, harvested field waiting for just such a meeting. I sat in deliberate darkness waiting for my world to meet deep space. I wanted to see the meteors blaze across the darkness, their brief fire frozen by my lens. As I sat there in the noisy darkness. I could hear dogs barking from miles away. Donkeys guarding their flocks, braying at predators. The light, the dogs, the donkeys and the atmosphere protecting their little bit of space from any intrusion. How did one tiny bit of comet dust stand a chance against such vigilance? Worlds aren't allowed to collide.