52 Weeks of Self-Portraits: Completed

Warning: this post contains more photos of my face than you would ever want to see. I’m a little apprehensive about posting this, but please bear with me.

Last year I started my first ever photography portrait: one self-portrait every week, for 52 weeks.

This week was my very last photo! I’ve enjoyed this but don’t think I would do it again; I much prefer the prompted 365 I’m doing right now. Having photos only once a week made me feel like I needed to do something too big (and so I felt a lot of my photos were too unnatural and contrived), and I like having direction now.  Still, it’s nice to look back on; I can remember what was happening that week that prompted me to take the photo.

I’m glad I completed it. I felt like I hadn’t made much progress over the year, but looking through these photos I feel otherwise, so that’s good! One of the things that struck me most was seeing how much I’ve learned to use light, which is very important.

So, here are my favorite photos from the past 52 weeks. You can see the entire album here.

Week one with Leonardo


Click the link below to view the rest of the photos (which get progressively better, I think!)

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Chunky Cauliflower, Cheddar, and Potato Soup

With snowstorms rolling through the US, soup is absolutely necessary. I firmly believe there is no better way to get warm (though I have a contender–I managed to fit my warm house shoes inside Joseph’s, and my feet feel amazing).

I made this soup last week, and when preparing this week’s menu had to add it again. At first, the recipe sounded pretty disgusting, but I’m glad I stuck through! It’s more like a baked potato soup with bits of cauliflower. They go together very well, and this is going to be made a lot around here.

Chunky Cauliflower, Cheddar, and Potato Soup from Relish!

2 russet potatoes , skins left on and roughly chopped
4 cups cauliflower florets (about one head)
2 carrots , roughly chopped
2 garlic clove(s), roughly chopped
1 white onion , roughly chopped
1 ½ teaspoons salt
2 cups vegetable broth
2 cups beef broth
1 ½ cups shredded cheddar cheese
¾ cup milk
¼ teaspoon caraway seeds
¼ teaspoon dry mustard
freshly ground pepper, to taste
¾ cup buttermilk
4 green onions , chopped

Place the potatoes, HALF of the cauliflower, carrots, garlic, onion, salt and broth in a soup pot. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer for 15 minutes.

While this is simmering, steam the remaining cauliflower for 5 minutes, or until tender, but still a little crisp, drain and set aside.

Remove the potato cauliflower mixture from stove after 15 minutes, and let cool 10 minutes. Puree the entire mixture, in batches in a blender until smooth and creamy. NOTE: make sure to let the steam escape! Return the mixture to the pot and add in the cheese, milk, caraway seeds, mustard and pepper. Simmer on low for 15 minutes.

Stir in the steamed cauliflower and heat for a few more minutes. Just before serving, mix in the buttermilk. Serve soup garnished with green onions and extra cheese, if desired.

Prompted 365: January

Photography is not something I consider myself exceptionally good at, but I do find myself growing all the time. I constantly look back at the photos I took a few months ago and think, “What? I thought that looked good? I would never let other people see such a photo now!” It’s a slow process for me, and I’m very rarely entirely pleased with a photo I take.

I finally committed to something to help me grow as a photographer: a prompted 365 project. I’ve wanted to do one of these for a while but didn’t have the self-discipline before.
For those who don’t know, 365 is a pretty huge goal: take one photo a day for 365 days. Many projects like this start on January 1, but they don’t have to be done this way. I decided to do a prompted one to give me a bit more direction and am very glad I chose this project! In just a month I’ve already been forced to take many photographs I never would have (I might even say I would not have taken any on these photos without the prompts), and I’m pushed in many ways.

I am participating in this group on Flickr. It’s not too late to pick up on the project! You can start at the Day 1 prompt (that the rest of us did on Jan 1) or pick up on the current date. I’d have to say the best part of the project is viewing all the different interpretations members of the group take. It also really illuminates all the different photographic styles (I feel like my style is on the poorer end, so the wonderful photographers participating provide a lot of inspiration). There’s a nice blend of experience and inexperience, so don’t be shy if you don’t own a DSLR, or if if you own one but don’t know how to use it yet.

365 projects seem to be a really wonderful way to learn and push yourself as a photographer. Hopefully by the end of the year we’ll be able to see a large leap in my work!

For now, I don’t want to post every photo, as some of them aren’t very good.  That’s what happens when you’re forced to tae a picture a day!  Maybe by the end of the year I”ll be able to make weekly posts showcasing every photo.

1 January: Light

7 January: Clear

12 January: Bow
Wednesdays are black and white, which is definitely a challenge! I feel like taking nice monochromes is much more difficult but am happy with the shot I ended up with.

13 January: Mug

14 January: Dining
Joseph and I couldn’t decide on our silverware, so we each have our own set! Mine is on the left, his on the right.

17 January: Oops

Cory made these lovely lines in our backyard. That one goes from the porch along our bedroom windows, and there’s also one shooting straight from the back fence to the porch. Thanks, dog!

18 January: Strong

21 January: Bridge

January: Half

This one has quite a story to it.

When Joseph and I started dating, back in the day when Myspace was still cool, I had a photo that was cropped in the middle of my face. That photo is the reason he clicked on my profile and messaged me.
After a year of talking online, Joseph went through a lot trying to talk me into dating him–I was resistant because he lived overseas. At one point, he cropped his face in half and inserted it into my original photo, just as pictured above. He had that photo put on bottles in a case of Jones Cream Soda he sent me. I still have all 12 bottles (at my parents’ house–I’ll take pictures next chance I get!). I decided it was time we redo that photo.

24 January: Royalty

25 January: Identity

I originally took this photo for “royalty”–my two favorite princes! But I then realized both works revolve heavily around forming and holding onto your identity. There’s no way for me to capture such a large word in one photo; all I can to is allude to something that could.

My father’s brohter, but no more like my father
Than I to Hercules.

26 January: Tradition

27 January: Smell

28 January: Funny
Leonardo and his purple cat nip mouse. He is in absolute heaven!

30 January: Reward
I’m not the only person who rewards themselves with treats, right?  It was homework day: “read a chapter, get a cookie”

Recent Photos

I think I would like to start sharing more of my photos here. I don’t post enough food to be considered a “food blog” or enough crafts to be a “craft blog.” So this is just my personal blog.

Last weekend Joseph and I saw the wonderful Improvised Shakespeare Company. They were absolutely hilarious!  They really know their stuff, too.  There were subtle illusions to Shakespeare, and the speech was full of appropriate metaphors and puns–they’re not just shouting out “old-timey” words. These are some seriously talented (and funny) guys. I encourage you go to see them if they are in your area!
They put on an improvised play, using the title a member of the audience suggests. Our play was called Rick’s Family in Minnesota. It was a romance with political undertones and full of complicated plot devices you’ll see all over Shakespeare’s works. But sorry–everything is improvised, and they only do each show once, so you’ll have go to see a different one!

The group was at the beautiful recently-renovated Uptown Theater in Grand Prairie.

These two photos were taken after we got home:

I’m not sure why Leonardo still loves us!

I haven’t posted any photos of our decorated house yet, but here’s a preview! Part of the bookcase in our living room:

Taco Rice

When I was 16, I traveled alone to Okinawa, Japan to visit a friend who had recently moved there. It was an absolutely incredible trip, and I’m very lucky to have had such an experience at a young age. My family has always traveled a lot, but as a shy 16 year old (who had never even ordered for myself at a restaurant), the solo trip was life-changing.  It only took one major airport break-down and the encouragement of a very kind pilot to safely get me through Narita Airport.

As well as a lifetime-worth of of self-confidence, a new-found obsession with Japan, and a suitcase full of stationery, I brought home Taco Rice. This was also one of the first things I ever cooked for myself and shared it with my family as soon as my flight landed. Recently sharing one of my favorite family recipes, Oven Hot Dogs, made me want to divulge more of the staples of my house.  Like OHDs, I’m not sure what makes Taco Rice delicious, but it is.  Joseph even had me cook this the first time I met my now-mother-in-law.  I told my dad I would be posting the recipe today, and he said, “Oh my gosh!  I haven’t had Taco Rice in so long!  I have to make some of that now.”  It’s good.

My friend Chantell, whose wonderful family I stayed with for the week, took me to a little restaurant popular among the Americans there. Anyone who has lived in Okinawa may know of this dish already. The restaurant might have been called “Pizza House,” but I could be getting that confused with a restaurant in Italy dubbed “Spaghetti House” by my fellow Americans.  They specialized in pizza, but Chantell was familiar with the restaurant and promptly ordered us Taco Rice.  Thanks, Chantell!

It’s simple. You can add onions, avocado, hot sauce or whatever else you want to it. I’m sure it would be wonderful that way, but I can’t do it myself. To me, Taco Rice is perfect as it is because it will forever represent that wonderful trip.

Taco Rice

1 lbs. ground beef
3 c cooked rice (1 c raw)
taco seasoning of your choice (This is my favorite)
lettuce, chopped
tomato, chopped
cheddar cheese, grated

Prepare rice. Brown ground beef and seasoning according to package or recipe directions.

Make a mount of rice on a plate and top with ground beef. Layer on chopped lettuce, grated cheddar cheese, and diced tomato. Pick up a spoon and enjoy!

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