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national dog day

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My mom put me in this questionable bow tie for National Dog Day. And I made her work like a dog (no pun intended) for this photo. The poor girl was swatting off gnats, fighting the muggy humidity, and distracting me with several Newman’s peanut butter biscuits. A full belly and a spiffy new look equals not a bad Wednesday.

homemade salsa – the only way to go!

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Remember those Pace salsa commercials where the indignant cowboy shouts, “This salsa’s made in New York City?” Somehow it wasn’t really legitimate salsa unless it hailed from Texas. I’ve got one better: how about your own kitchen? The best salsa will always be homemade salsa, and it’s super simple to make. If you’ve got a food processor, it’s a quick and easy road to fresh salsa. Even if you don’t, pulling out your trusty knife and cutting board will produce great results.

Here’s a wonderful recipe from a family friend, Ginny Dowling, who used to run her own catering company and is one of the best cooks around!

Ginny’s Salsa

4-5 large tomatoes

1/2 red onion

2 garlic cloves

Handful of cilantro

1/2 Jalapeno pepper (no seeds for mild salsa–a few seeds for a hotter version)

Juice of two limes

Kosher salt to taste

Optional: Adding a dash of olive oil

Cut up the first five ingredients and add to your food processor. Once you’ve pulsed the ingredients then add lime juice and finish with kosher salt to taste. Voila, you’ve got amazing salsa. Nothing beats the fresh taste. Regarding jalapeno peppers, please be very careful to not touch the seeds! If you do, wash your hands immediately!

summer berry crisp

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Perfection is overrated. One look at the above photo and it’s obvious it’s been taste-tested and spent the night in the fridge. In my defense, there was a very gloomy thunderstorm ready to hit when I took it out of the oven. The bubbling hot fruit oozing out from under the golden brown crisp topping would have made a dreamy pic, but that thunderstorm was looming. The lighting conditions were bad while the sampling conditions were optimal. Could you have resisted a warm berry dessert topped with Haagen Daz vanilla ice cream on a stormy evening?

Anyway, this recipe is a total keeper and was so simple to make. Whoever coined the phrase “easy as pie” probably never attempted a berry crisp. Using fresh blueberries, blackberries, and strawberries really upped the wow factor. My only two changes to the recipe were: the addition of a squeeze of fresh lemon juice to the fruit and cutting the amount of regular sugar on the topping to a 1/4 cup sugar while leaving the brown sugar amount alone.

Summer Berry Crisp: it’s easier than pie!

May 21, 2016 - 2:32 pm

Madeline - I am definitely making this!

almost summer must-haves!

When you’re delirious from the 97-degree Florida heat, you need relief. A Slurpee, the latest issue of Coastal Living, and a heavy dose of AC helped me beat today’s scorcher. Scoring this cute peasant top from Target was also a nice little pick-me-up. How did I know about it? If you’re on Instagram then follow Target Does It Again to get the scoop on the newest finds at Target.

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photography tips – perfecting your snapshots

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BACKGROUNDS MATTER

I once cringed looking at a shot of carefree college girls. They were adorable, but the parking lot dumpster behind them not so much. Rid your background of gawkers (sheesh, what’s wrong with people who mill around staring?), unattractive signage, dirty dishes, etc. Being mindful of your surroundings really creates clean, fresh images. It usually only means moving over a few steps here or there. To liven things up, look for colorful walls or architectural details or funky signage–it really ups your photo game.

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PROPS MAKE THINGS FUN

Our favorite memories always manage to tell a story. Props can add a special dimension to your photos. The key is to pick things that are authentic to your subject. Go beyond the photo booth mentality (don’t get me wrong–I love mustaches and oversized sunglasses), and pick something that relates to the person you’re taking photos of. It could be as simple as everyone lifting up their wineglasses or wearing cowboy hats at a Miranda Lambert concert. For kids, there’s always something they’re obsessed with at various phases of their childhood from super heros to cake pops to glittery pink cowboy boots.

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GO FOR THE LAUGH

An automatic response to having a camera in your face is the posed smile. Go for a real smile–you’ll know it–you can see it in their eyes. And although a true smile is appealing, laughter is absolutely magical. Some of the most memorable photos are actually outtakes before or after the posed smile. Cracking up people you know usually takes minimal effort. Go for it–you don’t have to be Melissa McCarthy or Ellen to get some laughs. Remember just don’t be afraid to make a fool of yourself. The results will be priceless.

Disclaimer/True Confessions:

1. I’m a professional photographer, but that doesn’t mean you can’t take amazing shots as well.
2. May was National Photo Month, and I’m posting this advice in June. To make up for my slacker ways, I’ll be doling out more photo advice in June, promise!

June 4, 2015 - 3:36 pm

Pooky - Thanks for the great tips! I always wondered how pros like you make their photos look so effortless and now I know :). P.S., Dawn and Alicia, you gals look gorgeous!

June 3, 2015 - 10:55 pm

Dawn Schwartz - Love those pics, especially the last one where my dear friends were making me crack up!

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