Portrait Photography

I’d like to start posting some of the portraits or other “professional”* photos I do either for practice or pay. I’m hoping to get more practice with willing friends because I’m becoming more interested in portrait photography these days. It can be nerve-wracking and tricky, but when it turns out, it’s very satisfying!

A little history: my former coworker (and current friend) was the first to urge me to be her wedding photographer back in 2006. Her encouragement and confidence in my abilities (combined with her laid-back personality) were extremely helpful and I’m still appreciative of her patience with my fears, and ultimately the opportunity to get that kind of experience. Thank you, T!! I also took her engagement photos as a practice run to see what it would be like working with the couple. I may post some of the engagement and wedding photos here sometime if she agrees to it.

The next year, my cousin was going to have a small wedding and thought it would be really cool to have family (that’s me!) do the photography. After having her (and everyone involved) look through my small portfolio to make sure they wanted me, I reluctantly agreed to what was another slightly scary photography experience. I wanted to do it, but I was afraid of disappointing her. Again, it worked out to have someone so laid back and encouraging cheering me on, and it was a great experience. I’m really glad I got to be a part of her wedding in that way.

Though I wouldn’t be opposed to some more wedding photography in my future, it’s not something I want to do full time. It’s stressful, and I’m not sure I have the right personality. For the right couple, though, I’d definitely consider it again.

Since then, I have done several portraits for work, for my nieces and nephews, and a set of senior portraits. Today I’ll show you a few photos from a recent work-related photo session.

*Even when I get paid for my photography, I never quite feel like a professional. That’s probably something I’m not supposed to admit. 🙂

Chicken Piccata

Some of you might’ve noticed that my last post had some broken images on it. It was being really strange, so I fixed it and also added a couple more pictures, including one of my friend K. Go back and see them, if you’d like!

Now for a recipe that P had requested I post. I don’t think she actually wants to cook it, though, so I’m not quite sure why I’m posting it. 😉 I made this for her and a couple other friends awhile back.

This turned out well, but next time I will make more sauce (maybe double or triple the recipe, depending on how much pasta and chicken I’m using). The flavor was good, though. Here is the recipe I used (I got it from AllRecipes.com), and I will note some changes I did in parentheses:

Chicken Piccata

1 3/4-pound whole skinless boneless chicken breast, halved lengthwise (I used the “tenders” and cut them into smaller pieces)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon vegetable oil (I used olive)
2 tablespoons dry white wine
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon drained bottled capers, chopped (I doubled this because I like capers)
3 tablespoon minced fresh parsley leaves (I didn’t mince them–just chopped them up a little)
Cream (I added about a quarter cup, but it could stand some more).

Halve the chicken pieces horizontally with a sharp knife and flatten them slightly between sheets of plastic wrap (I didn’t do any flattening–every time I try to flatten chicken, it’s a pain and makes too much racket). In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the butter and the oil over moderately high heat until the foam subsides and sauté the chicken pieces, seasoned with salt and pepper (I actually coated them in some flour, salt, pepper and Italian seasoning), for 1 minute on each side, or until they are cooked through. Transfer the chicken with tongs to a platter and keep it warm, covered loosely. To the skillet, add the remaining 1 tablespoon butter, the wine, cream and the lemon juice, and bring the mixture to a boil. Stir in the capers, the parsley, and salt and pepper to taste and spoon the sauce over the chicken (I put the chicken back in to help thicken the sauce, with its flour coat, after failing with some cornstarch).

Easter party

Okay, all of my photos are relinked and my blog should be in working order. Meanwhile, I’m switching to Picasa for now. Not that you asked.

I have a friend who is particularly thoughtful and generous, and she often sends me packages in the mail with festive little presents inside, depending on the time of year. A couple of years ago she sent one for Easter/spring, and some of the contents had yet to be used. A Disney Princess egg dyeing kit, for instance.

So, last week I had the sudden inspiration to invite a few friends over to dye eggs and decorate cookies. My last-minuteness meant that only one friend could actually come, but I was fine with that and still tried to Easter up my place. Then a second friend ended up having a free block of time and she came over too! Here are a few photos…

Tulips were on sale, so I used having company as an excuse to get some. I love this vase, but it ended up leaking and I had to switch them to another.

I like this vase, too, so it’s okay.

Tired of tulip photos yet?

All set up to dye!

This butterfly garland was another part of the aforementioned Easter package, so I was happy to have a good reason to use it. So cute!

Do you love my bowl? It was on Easter clearance at Target a few years ago. I use it year-round.

K is such a great photo subject for me–she’s willing to let me take photos and post them!! And she’s lovely. 🙂

K and I dyed these. We’re pretty amazing.

I also made cookies for us to decorate and give away to some friends. They’re delicious (and “tender,” as my friend P said :D), but I think I’m going to be sick from eating too many. I might post the recipe sometime.

More of our mad decorating skillz.

Here they are all bagged up to hand out.

Happy Palm Sunday!


I was out on the deck looking at some ducks when a hummingbird flew up by the feeder (a few feet from where I was standing) and then quickly flew off when I looked its way. The exciting part was that it was a new hummingbird! Up until now, I’ve only seen Anna’s Humminbirds around here since I moved in the fall, but spring is bringing more, exciting wildlife!

Fortunately, I was able to wait inside for it to come back so I could take more photos through the window. These aren’t the greatest due to the lighting, but they give you an idea. I’m pretty certain this is a male Rufous Hummingbird.

(Don’t you love how the drawings on that site are sooooo different from the photos? I mean, I love WhatBird–it has helped me identify lots of birds–but the illustrations are rarely very accurate since they have such vivid colors. The birds would really only look that way if a thousand angels were shining light and rainbows directly onto the bird in question.)

One of the few shots I got where you can see his lovely red neck. That’s right, I said red neck!

Oh wait, here’s another neck shot! (I wrote this post awhile ago and took more photos since starting it.) Lovely, especially when he’s flying in sunlight.

Cheeeeeeeck me out! I got a photo with his little beak open! And why yes, that does seem to be a tiny hummingbird tongue. He’s smacking his lips at the delicious sugar water that I slaved over just for him! Enjoy, little buddy! I’ll put it on your tab.

And now, the highlight of my day…

!!!! Two at once! I was just thinking earlier, “I wonder if I’ll ever get more than one bird on the feeder once the weather gets nicer,” and here I got two and it’s totally windy and rainy out! Plus, special bonus: another tongue shot! You can see a bit of tongue on the right-side bird. AND: I think the left-side bird is a female Rufous, but I thought it was a female Anna’s. That means I’ve been seeing the Rufous for weeks now but didn’t realize since it was always the girl and they are harder to identify. Such an educational day. So this scene you’re looking at is basically a date.. my deck is incredibly romantic.


Tonight I went outside hoping to get some bird photos, but instead I came back with flower photos. Surprise! I know it’s so weird for me to take pictures of flowers. I couldn’t help it, though–birds are afraid of me, while flowers are strangely comfortable in my presence and rarely run away.

Oh I did get one bird photo, but it was mostly for the little blueish flowers in the background. Plus these aren’t really birds.. they’re more like neighborhood cats, roaming free and making a mess. I actually wish they were a bit more afraid of me.

Sidenote: I think I must be the most inefficient user of both Blogspot/Blogger and Flickr. I am sure I’m taking the most roundabout way to each screen that I need. I’ll rant about those things another time, though.

There is an evergreen that has these blossomy branches growing around it, for some reason. I was taking these photos looking straight up, and I’m kind of surprised I was able to get any clear ones since there wasn’t much light.

Hang in there, these are a bit repetitive.

I like this because it looks like stained glass.

Not the prettiest flower ever, but I saw it growing on the ground all by itself. Anyone know what it is?

I can’t decide if I like this photo or if it just creeps me out. It sort of looks like ants are crawling all over the flowers. I’m getting itchy just thinking about it.

I have a thing for little blossom cluster photos. They’re full of sprinkly goodness!

Okay, last one! For making it through, you should reward yourself with a delicious beverage.

Current Interests (continued)

This is continued from my first “current interests” post located here.


(Confession: I did not take that photo.)

So, my friend lent me his Angel DVDs, and up until a couple of years ago, I didn’t even know the show existed. Is it the best thing I could watch? Nope–it has scenes and qualities that I’m not thrilled about, for sure. But I got hooked and have enjoyed watching it during meals (not always a smart idea with some of those monsters) and laundry. I thought I was almost finished with the series, but I just learned there’s another season!


Awhile back I decided to buy an avocado (I tend not to buy them because they can be pricey and I didn’t trust my ability to choose the right ripeness) because they are delicious and nutritious. Oh and they were on sale. 😀 It must’ve hit the spot, because I couldn’t get it out of my mind and began buying them regularly and eating them with everything–sandwiches, salmon, chicken, scrambled eggs, etc. I was daydreaming about moving back to California and having an avocado tree in my back yard. They are the perfect addition to any meal–I even ate one on pizza the other day!


(You can click on that small photo for a larger version if you want.)

My current nature photo goal is to take a decent (key word) photo of a heron. I see one every couple of days, but of course it always lands on a far off tree (that I can’t get to without a boat). Today I saw this one and waited until it flew so I could get some photos, but of course it’s hard to get anything decent at such a distance. One day.

Okay, this post is a little boring, but that’s life.

Chicken Breast Cutlets with Artichokes and Capers

Chicken Breast Cutlets with Artichokes and Capers

Such a creative name.

I made this for friends a couple of years ago and we all liked it a lot, as far as I know. 🙂 (Why haven’t I made it since?) I used this recipe, but I did a few things differently based on some reviews, preferences and what I had, so I’ll post it as I made it:

About 1 cup whole wheat or white flour (I just put some in over the raw chicken in a dish and tossed the chicken in it, so who knows how much I actually used)
salt and pepper
2 pounds chicken breast tenderloins or strips
2 tablespoons canola oil
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 cups chicken broth
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 can quartered artichoke hearts (unmarinated, drained and rinsed)
1/4 cup capers (drained)
1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley, plus some sprigs for garnish
1 T cornstarch mixed with a bit of cold water (not sure if this actually helped once the chicken was in there, but I wanted to post it exactly as I made it :))


1. Combine flour, salt and peppers. Dredge chicken in seasoned flour and shake off excess.
2. Heat canola oil and olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken breasts and cook until golden brown on both sides, and no longer pink on the inside; set aside.
3. Pour in chicken broth and lemon juice. Bring to a simmer, scraping the bottom of the pan to dissolve the caramelized bits. Add cornstarch mix. Add artichoke hearts and capers, return to a simmer, and cook until reduced by half.
(NOTE: I couldn’t tell that it was half or not, it seemed to just be taking too long so I eventually just added the chicken which had that flour coating, so it helped thicken things a LOT)
4. Place cooked chicken back into pan, and simmer in the sauce for a few minutes to reheat. Serve on a platter sprinkled with chopped fresh parsley.

The recipes shows it with pasta, but I decided I wanted rice. I cooked the rice over the stove like this (it’s sort of the beginnings of rice pilaf):


Heat large pot.
Add a couple tablespoons of olive oil.
Pour in 2 cups of rice, stir to coat with oil.
Add 4 cups of water and 2 cubes of chicken bouillon.
Cover and let simmer, stirring occasionally (but not too much or it’ll get too starchy and be more like risotto – yuck).
I had to add (about 1 cup) more water later, but I guess it depends on how hot you have it and how much it’s kept covered, so use your best judgment. I’m not very “by the book” about cooking, so I tend to have to correct things like this. 😛
When the rice is no longer crunchy inside, you can turn the burner to very low and leave it there covered for awhile to keep it hot, and it’ll be fine.

Muy delicioso!


Yesterday was the first day of spring, and the weather was appropriately spring-like. SO NICE. I went a few places to get some photos, though I didn’t really take all that many. Still, I can share a few here. Please excuse the vague descriptions…

Here’s a blossomy tree.

The lovely cherry trees. I take the same pictures each year–some of you are probably bored right now. 😛

Nothing special about this photo, but I like white daffodils (and most white flowers).

A nearby wildlife refuge has a nice trail. It’s still a little early, so it’s obviously not lush, but it was nice to get out in nature anyway. I’ll probably go back in a few months when it’s greener.

I’m not even sure I like this photo, but it’s kind of springy looking. I had the wrong lens on when I took it, so it didn’t really turn out as I wanted, but I was too lazy to switch lenses.

Is it springy where you live?

Current Interests

Like most people, I go through phases with what I prefer to eat, listen to, play, watch, etc. Here are some of the things I’m into right now. I’m not necessarily proud of this list, just so you know.


I recently re-found an old Scrabble computer game that I got years ago. I think the person who gave it to me got it free from their cereal box, which is pretty awesome. I’ve always loved Scrabble, but the problem with playing it with humans is that it can take such a long time for each turn. Playing at the computer means it’s always my turn (except the 2 seconds while “Maven” is taking his/her turn), so I can finish a game quickly (and start a new one…27 times per night). I get a lot of practice and can exchange my tiles without waiting an hour before I can play another word. It’s great–who needs people?

Since it’s an old program, it kind of jumps out of Windows (that sounds weird) so that my task bar isn’t showing, and I don’t know what time it is or if I have new email. It’s pretty dangerous, actually, because I tend to sink into a timeless, introspective bubble of smooth jazz (that’s what the game has playing), where words like QAT, XI and OE are the norm.

The above photo was taken last night so I could show my friend how much the game celebrates me. That brought some human interaction into the game, so now you know I’m not a complete robot-snowman-loner.


The Starbucks iced tea (with Splenda, no “classic”) is not so much a current interest as a lifelong pursuit of happiness, but I have definitely had my fair share lately. I can’t seem to not crave one, no matter the day or the weather. LOVE. Send me gift cards so I can buy more overpriced goodness.

As for the Safeway sandwich, well I can’t really explain this particular phase because it’s not like Safeway has the world’s best sandwiches. There are plenty of other great sandwich places, but I guess I got stuck on this one particular type that Safeway makes for me, and now I have been craving them very often (and giving in to said cravings more than I should). I think it started because I had one after a hike one day and it was so satisfying that I have had a nice association with it ever since. Ingredients: original split-crust roll, turkey, provolone, lettuce, and light on the mustard/mayo. It’s really nothing special. Okay, yes it is.

I have more, but this post is getting pretty long, so it’ll be continued later.

Smashed Potatoes

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! I’m attempting to cook up some corned beef for my first time. I’ll let you know how it goes.

I suppose I should make a more festive post with Irish recipes, but the closest thing I can do is give you a recipe for some delicious potatoes, per a friend’s request. First, here is the exciting story of how I came to be introduced to these tasty morsels. While talking potatoes with a friend, she linked me to this recipe for Crash Hot Potatoes. They looked great, but I guess they slipped my mind until I saw these Smashed Potatoes months later and decided it was time to try them. I did, and ohmygosh they were so good! They don’t look like anything special, but they end up having a combination of crisp, soft and salt that is so perfect.

This photo I took of them isn’t all that impressive, though. I would make them and photograph them again, but I am sort of avoiding potatoes at the moment (and this post is making me regret that :P).

I made them a bunch of times last year, so I learned a few tips. Here’s basically how I make them (you will probably want to peruse the linked recipes first to understand what I’m talking about):

1. Preheat the oven to about 465 F. Boil a bunch (you’ll find yourself adding more and more each time you make these) of little potatoes for about 20 minutes. I prefer the little white/golden ones to red (I tried red once and they seemed to have a flavor or richness that wasn’t quite right for this recipe).

2. Meanwhile, swirl (or write your name with) some olive oil on a baking sheet. I ended up buying one of those ketchup bottles with the small spout for my olive oil, because it has worked better for occasions such as these.

3. Sprinkle salt all over the oil on the pan. Seriously, this step makes a wonderful difference.

4. After the potatoes are all nice and boiled, remove them from the water and lay them on the baking sheet, smearing them in the oil a bit to help it coat the bottom.

5. I use the bottom of a drinking glass (usually covered in foil) to smash each potato. It’s fun!

6. Brush each potato with more olive oil and top with plenty of salt and pepper (and whatever other herbs/spices you might like).

7. Bake for 20-30 minutes, depending on how crispy and brown you like your potatoes.

So who here has made these before?