I've moved!

I'm not blogging here any longer and just realized that my photos from last year are watermarked with this address.  Woops!  And sorry!

The Spirit of the Holidays

Christmas isn't just a day, it's a frame of mind.  It's the magic of the gifts that have been under the tree, just waiting to be opened.

And the anticipation of Santa.  Think back to when you couldn't go to sleep because of the excitement, or waking up and running in to Mom and Dad to let them know that Santa had been there!

Memories of Christmas do not fade, no matter how much time passes.

It's about the sounds and smells,

the anticipation,

the excitement and flurry and frenzy

The pure innocent joy of laughter coming from children of all ages.

Time may pass, but the memories of Christmas do not fade away.

The magic of Christmas lives on in the hearts of children that grow up into adults

and adults that have children of their own.  Someone to share the magic with.

And that is the magic of Christmas.  It will never go away...not as long as there are children that believe. 
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to my friends near and far!

(Thank you, Courtney, for sharing your girls with me!)

Christmas Rosettes

Grandma made rosettes every year and they are my Dad's favorite Christmas treat. 
I've had Grandma's rosette irons for probably 10 years now, and the tradition lives on. Rosette-a-thon 2012 is in the books!

Rosettes are a wonderfully thin and crispy treat.  They taste like fry bread without the dough, if that makes sense.  Just know, they are fantastic and everyone should have them every year.  Trust me, you must have these!

So, let's just jump right into the recipe and a step-by-step how to...

2 eggs
2 Tablespoons sugar
1 Cup of Milk
1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1/2 Teaspoon Lemon Extract
1/4 Teaspoon Salt
1 Cup Flour (Sifted)

Vegetable Oil
Confectioners Sugar

First, combine your sugar, eggs and salt in a mixing bowl.  Beat it well.  I just use the whisk attachment on my mixer.  This batter is quite thin...just slightly thicker than the milk alone.

Add the lemon and vanilla extract, followed by the milk.  Beat this well to make sure everything is combined.

Finally, add the flour.  I put about half in, whip it for a minute, then add the other half.  Really whip this well, scraping the sides and bottom of the mixing bowl.  You want this creamy smooth with no lumps at all.

While your batter is mixing, turn on your electric skillet (that's what I use) or a deep skillet on the oven.  Add about 2" of vegetable oil to the skillet and heat to 375 degrees.

When the oil is heated, place your rosette iron into the oil and let it heat up for about 2 minutes.  This is really important.  If you don't heat it enough, you will have a mess.  Consider yourself warned! 

Once your rosette irons are hot (remember, 2-3 minutes in the hot oil), dip them in the batter, going up about 3/4 of the way on the mold.  You don't want the batter to come over the top because then the rosettes won't release.

Immediately put the irons (with the batter) into the hot oil.  Don't try to shake the batter off!  So, do this order and do it quick...
  • Heat
  • Dip
  • Get it into the oil
Repeat that over and over, because you want to move quick and not worry about drips!

 See that picture?  Within seconds, the batter will pull away from the rosette iron.  Give it another second or two and lift the iron.  The rosette should fall off.  If it sticks anywhere, just use a fork to pull it away from the iron.

Let them fry for 2-3 minutes on one side, then flip it with a fork for another minute or 2 on the other side.  You want these to be a pretty golden color.

 When they are done, remove from the oil and put on paper towels.  I use magic paper towels.  They absorb calories with the oil.  Really.

Now, and this is really important again, heat the iron in the oil for about a minute or 2 before dipping in the batter again!  Take your time and be sure the iron is heated.  Trust me, if you don't you will have a mess of batter globbed onto your iron that you have to clean before you can continue.

It's not pretty.

While the rosettes are warm, sift confectioners sugar on top.  These can be stored in a Tupperware type of container for a week to 10 days and they'll still be nice and crisp.  Well, that's what I've been told.  They aren't usually around for more than a day or two!

Now, sit back with a cup of coffee, tea or your beverage of choice and enjoy your rosettes!  By the way, these are a wonderful treat to share with the neighbors.  Everyone absolutely loves them!

Grandma's Rosettes
Shared by Kim Mattina (www.kimmattina.blogspot.com)

2 eggs
2 Tablespoons sugar
1 Cup of Milk
1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1/2 Teaspoon Lemon Extract
1/4 Teaspoon Salt
1 Cup Flour (Sifted)

Combine eggs, sugar and salt. Beat well. Add milk, vanilla extract and lemon extract. Beat until combined. Add in flour a little at a time. Continue beating until you have a smooth batter. It should be thin, like a crepe batter (you don't want it thick, like pancake batter...it should be quite thin).

Heat approximately 2" of oil to 375 degrees. I use an electric skillet rather than a skillet on a stove because it's easier to control the temperature.

Heat the rosette iron in the hot oil for about 2-3 minutes. When you remove the iron from the hot oil, allow excess oil to drip off, then dip the hot iron in the batter. Only come about 3/4 of the way up the iron (you don't want it to come to the top). Place the batter coated irons directly into the oil and hold it so that the iron doesn't touch the bottom of the skillet.

After about 10 seconds, you'll see the edges start to curl away from the rosette iron. Use a fork to gently pull the rosette away from the iron. Allow it to cook in the oil for approximately 2-3 minutes. Flip the rosette over and allow to cook for another 1-2 minutes.   Remove from the oil when they start to turn golden.

Reheat the iron in the oil for approximately 1 minute between rosettes. (Very Important to do!)

Place rosettes on a wire rack covered in paper towels to allow the oil to drain. (I use a rack for cooling cakes. I put a double layer of paper towels on top, plus 1 underneath.)

Continue until all rosettes are made. This recipe makes approximately 50.

Line rosettes on a clean paper towel and sprinkle (or sift) powdered sugar on top while still slightly warm.

I Am Not Pleased

Dunkin is experiencing his first Christmas. He has climbed the middle of the tree, knocked off ornaments and chewed the branches. He looks guilty the entire time!

Therefore, he shall wear the "Antlers of Shame", for which he totally gave me the stink eye!

But, then he decided to go all Tyra (with the help of my son) and pose for a couple.


I will sleep with one eye open tonight.

Phillip Phillips in Anthem

The tree lighting at the Outlets at Anthem is a big deal.  Really, it is!  My little town lights it up the weekend before Thanksgiving every year.  This is just any tree.  This is one HUGE tree!  This year, it's 112 feet tall (the tree at Rockefeller Center in NYC?  Only 85 feet) with over 6000 ornaments and 3 miles of lights.  It's like Clark Griswald, just vertical instead of spread across a yard.  This is the tallest live tree in the country, and we are proud of it and of the people at the Outlets that do a really great job of organizing the event every year!

We usually have around 15,000 to 20,000 show up for the performances that lead up to the lighting of the tree.  This year...35,000 people!  Our town doubled in population this year.  Why so many this year?  Why would all these people drive up Arizona I-17 just to see a tree lighting?

Hmmmmmmm, could have something to do with this guy.

Two words.  One word twice.  Phillip Phillips.

Don't know him?  Bet you do and don't even know it!  How about the winner of American Idol (Season 11).  Or, maybe you know his song "Home" that was hummed in homes around the U.S. as the theme song for the Fab Five US Women's Gymnastics Team.  Based on commercials, it's the song for Extreme Makeover Home Addition (makes sense!) and American Family Insurance.  Seriously, you can't turn around without either humming it or Whooooooaaa Ohhhh Ohhhh Oh Ohhhh Ohhhhh-ing it.

He's got boyish good looks.  Could be because he's so young.  Or, because I'm old.  Not too sure which.  *shrug*  He also has a grin that could indicate that he's going to get in trouble doing something.

How can you not love that, right?

I don't know if I've mentioned it, but I love good backlighting.  This is a performance stage, so I don't get to control it, but it wasn't bad at all and I got a few "moody" shots before the first song.

And black & whites of backlighting?  They bring out the artist in the musician.

You're welcome.

I know I have a lot of black and white in the set.  More than normal.  It's because I can only see so many shots of a person being purple or blue or magenta before I want to pull my hair out.

No one should be purple.  Never.  Never ever.  Therefore, it's black and white.

You're welcome.  Again.

Phillip Phillips' first CD comes out tomorrow (Monday, November 19) named World From the Side of the Moon.  You can order it right here on Amazon ($14.99 and you'll be able to download it after midnight).  Based on Saturday's performance, you need to go out and buy it.  In fact, it's the perfect stocking stuffer for the holidays.  Just sayin'.

Really some amazing songs and the accoustic guitar will make you want to go out, buy a guitar, take a lesson or two, realize you have no musical talent, then put it to the side so that everyone thinks you are musical.

Maybe that's just be me.

The End of Another Season

I've been so fortunate to photograph every level of football available.  As much as the big guys are amazing, with their skills and experience, I have to admit one thing.

The little guys are my favorite to shoot.  I know, that may sound strange (especially to parents that think I'm crazy for preferring to spend a Saturday afternoon photographing 10-13 year olds), but it's true.

While the pros, even college to some extent, have the big crowds, they just seem to lose a lot of the passion for the game that the young guys have.

These guys run their fastest, hit their hardest and are in constant learning mode.  They don't know everything and don't pretend to (unlike their older counterparts).

These guys just want to play.  After all, it's a game.  It's a game with life lessons that encourage discipline, hard work, physical exhaustion, time management...all things that we need to do later on in life.

Yes, it's only a game.  Unless you're a 12-year old on the field of play.  Then, it's life.

Happiness in a Bowl

I realize that there is nothing of nutritional value in these.

I understand that a bowl full of sugar cereal infused with artificial dyes is not going do anything good for me.

There's one thing that they don't list on the side of the packaging.  There's nothing better than that pretty yellow bowl filled with bright flakey goodness on the happiness scale.

How can you be cranky during the day when it starts with this!

As an added bonus, I adore laying out this doily that my friend Carla sent to me.  Isn't it just so beautiful?  Her mother crocheted these before she passed away many years ago.  Not sure how old they are, but I'm guessing maybe 40 years?  I need to ask Carla about that.  But, it doesn't matter if they are a week old or 40 years old, they are so pretty to lay over the table cloth!  Thank you, Carla, for sharing this little piece of your mother with me! 

OK, back to my Fruity Pebbles.