Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Cranberry Orange Doughnut Muffins

We had a snow day yesterday. And since I can't really remember the last time I baked anything for fun, we decided it was perfect for a muffin baking day with the boys. I tweaked this blueberry muffin recipe and ended up with the husband-declared "best muffins in the world". They were quickly consumed and I have received numerous requests to make this again. Friends and family members who saw my snapchat have even offered me money and bribes to make dozens more. My boys keep pretending to pull the muffins out of these pictures to eat them again. 

They are that good.

Cranberry Orange Doughnut Muffins

yield: ABOUT 18 MUFFINS  |  prep time: 20 MINUTES  |  cook time: 15-17 MINUTES


2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon corn starch
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
Zest of 1 orange
1 cup pure cane sugar
1/2 cup applesauce
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk (or add 1 tablespoon vinegar to regular milk)
2 cups coarsely-chopped cranberries

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 cup confectioners' sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon freshly-squeezed orange juice
1 tablespoon warm water

  • Preheat oven to 425°. Lightly grease or paper a standard muffin tin.
  • In a medium bowl, sift together flour, corn starch, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
  • In a large bowl, Combine the zest and sugar until it is moist and fragrant. Add applesauce, eggs and vanilla. Cream together until smooth. 
  • Stir the flour mixture into the wet ingredients alternately with milk, make sure everything is thoroughly combined. Fold in cranberries.
  • Spoon the batter evenly into prepared pan, filling muffin tins nearly full. Bake for 15-17 minutes, or until muffins are a pale golden brown and a cake tester comes out clean. 
  • In a medium bowl or small sauce pan, whisk the glaze ingredients until smooth. When muffins have cooled slightly, dip the muffin crown into the glaze and allow the glaze to harden. You can leave them as is or go for the double dip. 
  • Serve warm, or cool on a rack and wrap airtight. 

Tuesday, December 29, 2015


It was the last rose of Summer, plucked gently off of my sad but brave worm eaten ruse bush. I was pretty certain I had destroyed that poor plant earlier in the Spring, because I am notorious for my inability to keep green things green even with the best of intentions. My poor little bush was indeed dead. Until one day, in between the spindly worm eaten veins of former leaves, was a little bud of pink. And then another, and another. That brave plant came back and with roses. And this was the last one.

It was so pretty and delicate I took a picture of it. And then I changed my angle and took another picture. Same spot, same settings, different perspective, completely different images.

I just can't help but think about how much like life this is. A simple matter of focus can change your circumstances. Not to be cliché or anything, but perspective is everything. You can look at the dark things in your life and dwell in the depression of your circumstances, or you can find the bright things in your life and experience the light of the blessings you do have. There will always be plenty of things to complain about, but there is always, always something to be grateful for. A lot of things, when you stop and think about it. So change your life and dwell in the joy of those things and be grateful.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Colton: Inspire Me

This time of year is crazy in my line of work. When I'm not behind the camera, I'm spending every spare moment editing, tweaking, adjusting, and finalizing literally thousands of images for other people. And then suddenly I hit a wall. And my eye for it is just done. I can't see the details, clarity, coloring and vision for my beloved work any longer. It's just a blur. A blob of pixels. I'm so uninspired.  And then I flip to my personal files, from months gone by with out more than a thumbnail glance. And suddenly I'm deep in brushes and cloning and light adjustment and perfecting. And just like that my inspiration returns. 

These images were captured back in September when I was experimenting with settings, lighting and technique. Colton is always a good sport for me. 

Friday, November 13, 2015

Taylor | Sweet Home Wisconsin

The Beautiful Taylor wins the prize for the greatest distance traveled to have her senior portraits taken by me. Her family made the road trip all the way from Arizona so her beloved native Wisconsin countryside could be the back drop to these very special portraits in her life. I feel her time was definitely worth her while. What a fun experience!

We started out at our local Colfax Railroad Museum. The sun was high and bright, which is normally a challenging factor on the photography side of things. But somehow, it just couldn't have been more perfect. We then wandered around this tiny little town and even stopped at a farm for some country shots. We traipsed carefully around vintage cars, rough hewn brick, a rustic barn and a quiet courtyard that afternoon... Time flew quickly, and I don't even know how to pick just a few of my favorite images. 

I'm so grateful for Taylor and her beautiful smile and fun personality. I know she has what it takes to go far in life, and not just literally, but figuratively too... hehe. I wish her the best and the biggest dreams ever.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Paul & Tarin and their Dapper Little Dudes

It couldn't have possibly been a more perfect Saturday morning at the Rod & Gun Park. The sun flickering through the leaves and sparkling on the water. The breeze gently wisping the few stray leaves that had been claimed by Autumn.

I had a family arrive for their photoshoot. Two people who fell in love a long time ago, and then stayed madly in love. Three dapper little gentlemen called them Mom and Dad. "I think the nice word for it is.... spirited?" The mom, Tarin, told me of the youngest. The two year-old. The little guy who was just weeks younger than my own fiery 2 year-old. I laughed. Most people hate to admit it, but the world seems to be ruled by these little 2 year-olds. I knew I was going to love him.

And as would be his custom, he was the passionate little personality that I have grown to love so much. I knew right away this wasn't going to be the standard, nicely posed family shoot. This was going to be a fun one. And so we followed Mr. Isaiah through his exploration of this amazing park. It was perfect and probably the most fun family shoot I have ever conducted.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Our Friend Percy

"Preserving a gentle spirit in a heartless world 

takes extraordinary courage, determination and resilience. 

Do not underestimate the power of gentleness
 because gentleness is strength wrapped in peace. 
And therein lies the power to change the world." 

 This is our little friend Percy. We found him as a teeny, tiny 1/8" monarch caterpillar, and he lived in a glass home in our dining room. We watched him grow and grow every day, until finally he spun himself a cocoon, which is probably one of the most fascinating things in nature that I have ever witnessed with my own eyes. He emerged from his chrysalis on a rather windy and chilly Summer morning. As we set him free, Jimmy got to reacquaint himself with the new Percy. With all the love and compassion in the world, he sat on the patio with Percy until Percy was strong enough to hold his own. And because sometimes when you love something, there comes a time to set it free. And that's what Jimmy did. And every time we see a monarch, we wonder if it's Percy.

Gentleness is always greatness.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Our Spica Cast Story

Our Summer was dramatically altered early that one Monday morning in July as we were starting our fun family day out in the backyard tent. Colton was exuding energy as he bounced precariously on the air mattress and stumbling all over the tent while he danced and sang, "Old 'MacFarmer' had a cow, E I E I O! With a farm farm here, and a farm, farm there!" He was making us laugh, I even have video of it.

As I pulled myself together and exited the tent to get going on our fun plans for the day, Jimmy and Colton clambered after me. One by one, they both tripped over the tent door and tumbled to the ground. I even had a chuckle of amusement forming at how virtually impossible it is for kids to simply exit a tent without stumbling. But then the cries that came out of my 2 year-old signaled immediately that something was wrong. Very wrong. He was in the most agony I have ever seen anybody experience. Literally dropping everything, we left immediately for the emergency room. The x ray revealed a spiral fractured femur, which sent us by ambulance to Rochester.
Our previously planned fun-day resulted in hours of tremendous pain and discomfort for him, and agonizing concern for his mama and daddy, and even big brother. They told us he would need to go under anesthesia so they could set his leg in a spica cast. He would most likely be in this cast for 6-8 weeks. Our lives were going to be majorly re-adjusted.

Thus commenced the spica cast story for our family. 

When he came out of anesthesia, I found my rambunctious little boy entirely restricted from his chest to his ankle (and knee on his non-injured leg). He couldn't even be in a position to lie down comfortably without some customized elevation. My poor baby couldn't even MOVE. And that's when a little panic started to seep in. How was he going to survive this??

I will never forget the sinking helplessness I felt the first time I tried to pick him up in his cast. I couldn't manage to hold his cumbersome body without causing him more pain and tears. I had to turn my head and try to blink back the tears rolling down my own cheeks because I couldn't let him see me cry. But then my strong husband picked him up, and when he put him in my arms, all was suddenly right in my little boy's world. Sweet Colton laid his head on my shoulder and tearfully thanked us. The mixed feelings of relief and terror was such an emotional experience in that moment. 

I was so fortunate to have a friend of a friend get me in touch with a couple friends of her own whom had experienced the whole spica cast journey themselves, and the first thing they helped me realize: This happens to other families too! And secondly: You do survive this! It seemed like such a surreal idea at the time, but it gave me hope. Knowing that other parents have experienced this trauma was so helpful in accepting grace for the coming hours, days, weeks... 

That is why I'm sharing our story, in hopes that some frantic mama out there, who like me, is searching google and pinterest during the midnight hours for any little piece of reassurance and tips on how to handle these arduous weeks. I want to pass on to her what I learned in all of this. 

And the first thing is, Mama, you will survive. And more importantly, your precious baby will survive. 

The first few days are the worst, the following week is still the hardest, but it will get easier. You must be patient and give it time. 

You will need to take a lot of deep breaths, because you won't be getting much sleep. Seriously, it is very much like having a newborn baby with the amount of care they require, especially initially. Accept help, and certainly don't feel bad to ask for it. Your house will be rearranged to suit the comfort and safety of your child the most. You won't have time to keep up on stuff. This will result in the steady feeling of disarray. That's okay. It's part of the story.

There will be more posts coming to share how we learned to cope, and even enjoy life through this experience, and I will be sure to link them here. In the mean time, if you are that desperate mama and just need a little been-there-done-that support and encouragement, I welcome you to email me. ( I would love to virtually "hold your hand" as you go on this journey.