An Italian Grandmother Would be Proud.

We have monthly dinners with a group of really good friends, and we have to make everything from scratch. It’s no joke, I even got in trouble once for bringing store made baklava to accompany my homemade Kunufe’ for mediterranean night.

This month we did Italian food and it was delicious. As I was planning what I was going to make the week of, I ended up having pasta almost all week because I really put myself into the character of an Italian Grandmother. I could smell the aromas of garlic, bread rising, and pasta dough kneading. I could hear myself talking a couple octaves higher than the soft spoken volumes I was used to.

A Simple and delicious dish we loved was a tomato cream sauce. You can serve over gnocchi (what we did) or regular pasta. (There’s a photo of the “dish” down below).


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can Italian-style diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 tablespoon dried basil leaves
  • 3/4 teaspoon white sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon butter


  1. In a saucepan, saute onion and garlic in olive oil over medium heat. Make sure it doesn’t burn. Add tomatoes, basil, sugar, oregano, salt and pepper. Bring to boil and continue to boil 5 minutes or until most of the liquid evaporates. Remove from heat; stir in whipping cream and butter. Reduce heat and simmer 5 more minutes.

Gotta LOVE Lightbulb Moments. Lightbulb Moment #1.

As I am reading through the camera manual (yes the WHOLE thing) I am learning a TON. Luckily my knowledge from my photo classes back in high school and college has stayed in my brain, and as I am reading through I am remembering. Aren’t our brains amazing? I’m like, I don’t even remember learning that…but somehow my brain found that file from way back when.

I have a few close friends in my network (aka Facebook) that have reached out to me as I have been learning different techniques and applying them to my photos. So I thought well…if they are contacting me with questions maybe there are more people that want info. And I like to share, so I am going to start these “Lightbulb Segments” for those of you who care. I am totally learning STILL and I mean…will I ever stop? Probably not. I by no means know everything to know about photography that is for sure, but as I am learning I want to a.) share what I’m learning as I go for people who would benefit and 2.) They say you really know something when you teach it…so all the more reason. If you have anything to add, please do.

Lightbulb Moment #1-Blurry Eyes

When taking professional portraits, make sure the eyes are in focus. Simple right? It makes a huuuge difference. WA-LAH the photo tends to all come together.

How do you get the eyes in focus?

A couple things…

1) If you are familiar with AF points on your SLR camera (I have a canon 60D) make sure that one of your AF points is focused on the eyes.

2) Study F-Stop/Aperture to understand how far away or close you should stand. For example if I am using a 50mm lens at an f-stop of 1.8 I will have a shallow depth of field, so I’ll need to know how I can maintain sharpness. I really like this online depth of field calculator.

Here are examples of sharp eyes vs. blurred eyes, and to me there is a big emotional difference between the two. Also with the blurry eyes-it’s almost like my eyes are trying to make them focus and they don’t…I can feel my eyes struggling to make sense of the eyes. Hoped this helped at least one person! Please contact me with any questions.

Sharp eyes: Left. Blurry Eyes: Right.

Sharp eyes:Right. Blurry eyes: Left.

It’s not as easy to tell in the photo on the right but your eye doesn’t struggle for clarity and sharpness.

Headshots with Meliss.

According to the definition of a prodigy is this: “a child who, by about age 10, performs at the level of a highly trained adult in a particular sphere of activity or knowledge.”

Yes…I sat next to THIS prodigy (you’ll see below) in 7th grade choir and every time I heard her voice it sounded like an angel who came to give me a concert from 1 foot away. This girl became a friend that I sang with, then a friend that I sang and hung out with, THEN a friend that I sang, hung out with, and traveled with… and eventually my best friend! She is constantly performing and auditioning so it was time for her to update her head shots. I felt honored when she asked me to take her photos a couple days after Christmas. Now we are best friends, who sing and travel together while taking professional pictures. I loooove her.

Melissa’s website is and I posted a video of her Patty Laponess like voice at the end of the photos. Trust me you don’t want to miss it!!



Adam and I have been able to play together…well since we now live in the same house and can call a band practice any time we want!!! Def a perk to living together. He is so far my favorite band member (tied with Melissa Harding of course), and recently we played at our first restaurant in Carmel Valley at a Mexican Cuisine called Plaza Linda. We had a blast and look forward to playing at more restaurants in 2012.