Learning a New Skill

For the past month I’ve been taking online classes to learn how to use Adobe Lightroom. It was a great course and the instructor taught each class in detail. Whatever questions he couldn’t get to during the session, he would take via email as well.

It was a free course through Shaw Academy (Mastering Lightroom). You can buy a membership and take as many classes as you’d like. Right now they are offering a FREE course for a very limited time (HURRY! Less than 24 hours left in the offer–I apologize for not posting about this sooner). I’ve been so busy getting my assignments and challenges done, as well as normal life stuff. I actually still have one assignment and my final exam left to do.

Shaw Academy offers several courses including: Photography, Cooking, Weight Loss, Career Advancement, and many more. They are currently creating several other courses to be introduced by the Fall.

Anyway, I learned a lot in the 8 classes of this course. You may be thinking you can’t learn very much in that short of time, but I actually learned quite a bit. Thankfully they offer replays of their courses. You can go back and watch the recordings up to 2 weeks after the course ends. (I took down a lot of notes). This is a BIG help for studying before taking your final exam for your certification.
(You are given THREE (3) chances to pass the final exam).


So, what’s this course like? Well…

For the first couple of lessons we learned about the program interface, how to import photos and how to organize them. Each lesson after covered a few to several other tools; learning how to use them to edit and improve photographs. After each lesson we were given a challenge to send in to show the instructor our understanding of what we had learned. We also had an assignment for each class (a multiple choice quiz). Challenges were not mandatory in this course, but as a visual/hands-on learner this was great for me.

Here are a few of my challenge results:


Challenge 1: Send in a photo we improved in Lightroom using the basic tools. (Photo taken with Pentax K-50)


Challenge 3: Send in a photo that we edited in 2 different ways. (Photo taken w/ Pentax K-50)


Challenge 4: Send in a photo with a local adjustment–use one or more tools from the lesson. (Photo taken with LG L Stylo)


Challenge 5, Part 1: Enhance the color of a photo w/ HSL.  Part 2: Do a B&W Conversion photograph. (photo taken with Pentax K-50; a request by my daughter)


I hope you enjoyed seeing some of my work.
Remember to take a look at the classes being offered, you might find one you like.
HURRY! Offer expires in less than 24 hours!

[PHOTO] After Sunset

April 8, 2016 — About an hour after sunset

While eating dinner with my family, my husband looked out of the window and declared, “Honey, you need to take a look at the moon. It’s lower than it has been lately. I think you should take a picture.”

I tried leaning over to see what was so interesting about it and barely caught a glimpse. So I got up and walked over to the window to get a better view.

The moon was lovely, even if only as a thumbnail. From our standpoint it appeared the dark orange-y sky could have represented sand at the beach… if it weren’t for the trees, buildings, and telephone poles in the foreground.

There is a slight reflection from the double pane window, but I like it that way.


Thumbnail Moon After Sunset

Photo taken with Pentax K-50  f/5.6  1/40 sec.  ISO : 12800

Tropical Paradise in a Glass

Today I made a new flavored syrup to use with our SodaStream.

I let my kids try it and they said, “It’s like a tropical paradise in our mouths!” (They are 7 and 9 years old).
I tried it and couldn’t claim the same. It wasn’t that I didn’t like it. It was because I had brushed my teeth about 20 minutes before and still have the minty essence on my taste buds. So I will give my formal opinion on it later. So for now, here’s the recipe:

Tropical Paradise Flavored Syrup

3/4 cup Pineapple Juice
3/4 cup water
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 tsp (actually about 3/4 full) imitation Coconut Extract

Bring to boil while stirring until sugar is dissolved. Cool Completely.

Again, I used 3 Tbsp of syrup with 6 to 8 ounces of carbonated water.

Reminder: ONLY carbonate water with the SodaStream.

Making Your Own Pop (Soda)

More often then not I drink water, but I’ve been getting tired of the bland taste all the time, and happened to mention it to my husband awhile ago.

Two weeks ago, while he was shopping, he spied a SodaStream Soda maker on sale and bought it. It came with 6 trial sized flavored syrups, three of which we did not try. (We don’t drink Diet, Energy drinks, or Grapefruit). The other three were gone in one day (Root Beer, Orange, & Lemon-Lime).

I had been trying to think of what I could make to use in the SodaStream until we could purchase a few of the syrup flavors. I had searched online for different ideas: infused water, homemade syrups and thought that I could probably come up with something else using simple syrup.

Well… last night, I did just that.

I made a simple syrup, and while it was cooling I added a few tasty extracts and came up with a refreshing low calorie idea:

Strawberry-Lemon Mint Syrup

Simple Syrup:
1 cup water
1 cup granulated sugar

Bring to a boil, stirring until sugar is completely dissolved. Let cool completely.

1 tsp. ReaLemon lemon juice
1/4 tsp. Imitation Strawberry extract
1/8 tsp. Pure Peppermint extract

I added them in while the syrup was still warm. Cooled it almost completely before storing it in a plastic squeeze bottle with a cap.

I’m glad I didn’t double the simple syrup recipe as the 1:1 ratio filled the squeeze bottle and had enough left over to make a cup of pop.

I shared the first cup with my kids; they thought it was pretty good. I think it was too.
It’s sweet, and the strawberry and mint come through. I personally can’t taste the lemon very much, so I might increase it next time around.

I used about 2-3 Tbsp of the syrup per cup of water, about 5 servings–and ONLY 77 calories per serving.


If you have a SodaStream, please remember: you’re only suppose to carbonate the water.


Make Your Own Oat Flour

My kids and I enjoy watching cooking shows on Saturday afternoons. One of our favorites is Lidia’s Italy.

On today’s show she made crepes. I have never tried making them before, but would like to. Anyway, Lidia (Bastianich) was talking about the different flours that can be used to make the crepe batter:

Unbleached Flour (said this was best)
White Flour
Oat Flour

She went on to say that you can make your own oat flour. You take dried oats and grind them in your food processor. I’m thinking, “That’s too simple, there must be more to it.” But, alas! my dear friend Google confirms!

Pulse the oats until they are ground into a powder-like consistency. Depending on the speed and power of yourfood processor, this process should take 60 seconds or less. Stop and stir to ensure that all the oats have been finely ground. One cup of rolled oats will yield approximately 1 cup of oat flour.

How Simple!!

Proud of Myself

It’s been a pretty good week. And a great cooking week.
My back and body hurt but I have no complaints. I feel accomplished and proud of myself.

This week we celebrate(d) two birthdays: P’s (hubby) and Little Miss (our daughter).

Both days I made special breakfasts. Wednesday we had Creamed Eggs on Toast. This morning I made French Toast, with a side of home fries, and their choice of bacon, sausage, or scrapple. (Sorry no recipes tonight, but maybe some other time). But what I’m most proud of is the cake I made for dessert tonight.

I haven’t done any baking in the last several years. I haven’t been able to–no oven, (screams), until…
Just before Thanksgiving we ordered a toaster oven. Yeah, I know what you’re thinking, it just makes toast. But really they’ve come a long way. They make some models now where you can toast, bake, and broil. Unfortunately ours isn’t big enough to cook even a small turkey, but it works pretty well for pork loin, beef roast, individual pizzas, cookies, cupcakes/muffins, CAKE, and of course, toast.

Ok, so, back to the cake…
I haven’t baked a cake in at least a decade. And I hate to admit it, but I have never made one from scratch. (I make most everything else from scratch, so cut me some slack here).

I used a white cake mix, and baked two 8″ cakes, one at a time and cooled them as directed.
I had an almost full can of butter cream frosting or 2 cans of chocolate frosting to choose from. I used butter cream between the layers and topped it with chocolate (hubby’s fave). I decorated the sides with shredded sweetened coconut. Our son and I used plain M&Ms, coconut, rainbow sprinkles, and leftover cookie icing to decorate the top.

It may not look like something you’d order from a Cake Shop but this is the best looking cake I’ve ever made. In previous tries I hadn’t let the cake cool long enough and it was crumbling and blended with the frosting, which also melted and looked like… well… to put it nicely, a MESS.

So without further ado…

Top of Cake

Side of Cake

Counting Our Blessings

This morning I saw my son staring at the calendar. He turned to look at me and exclaimed, “I can’t believe there’s only ONE day left in the year!”

One Day LEFT in 2014?! Where did the time go?

I can’t speak for anyone else, but for me 2014 has flown by.
It wasn’t a bad year. It wasn’t a great year, but I have no complaints. I may not have accomplished everything I wanted to, or achieved every goal I set out for the year, but that’s life. Not everything goes according to plan and that’s OK.

I’m thankful for the experiences, both good and bad, that I’ve had this year. It’s like I’ve told my kids, “Life is a learning process; it’s full of tests. If we fail a life test, God is gracious and merciful and gives us other opportunities to pass it.”

I used to dwell more on the negative things in my life,
but I’m getting better at counting my blessings instead.
A few weeks ago, I saw a post on FB with an idea to do just that:

You need a large jar with a lid.
Decorate it as you’d like.
Every time something good happens during the year,
write it down on a slip of paper and put it into the jar.
Then on New Year’s Eve you read all of the good things that happened during the year.
A Jar of Blessings!
Repeat annually.