Saturday, August 24, 2013

Improve Your Photography with an Online Photography Class

Would you like to join a world-class photographer on location? Want to know more about portraits and lighting? Well, now you can by taking one of Craftsy's new online photography classes. Craftsy is working hard to revolutionize online education with highly interactive courses and there are six specific to photography. So check them out!

Courses currently available:
Shoot It: Product Photography Class - How you can take great photos. No expensive software or fancy camera required!

Kirk Tuck: Studio Portrait Lighting - Equipment, setup and lighting techniques for professional-quality studio portraits.

Portraits With an On-Camera Speedlight - Learn advanced on-camera flash techniques with Neil van Niekerk.

Landscape Photography: Great Sand Dunes - Join Rick Sammon and learn how to take breathtaking landscape photos.

Shooting Intimate Landscapes - Join Rob Sheppard to find beauty on a small scale.

Off-Camera Flash Photography with Neil van Niekerk - Expert flash techniques help you show your subjects in their best light.

For your convenience, I've added links to each of the classes. FYI - links are affiliate.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Fidgeting for Weight Loss

I'm just finishing up a really interesting class through Coursera on Nutrition and Physical Activity for Health. During the past week, we've been studying energy balance and how calories are burned both during activity and at rest at various rates depending on individual metabolism and other factors. This got me to thinking about fidgeting. Can increasing your fidgeting help with weight maintenance or weight loss?

I remember being told as a kid to stop fidgeting. After all, what teacher wants a fidgety kid? It's disruptive to the rest of the class, right? I wasn't particularly fidgety so it wasn't a problem for me to stop. But now I think I'm sorry I did. How many calories would I have burned over the past 40+ years if I had continued to fidget?

Right here on the home front, we have an example of how this works in real life. We're all in our 50s now (there are five in our little non-random sample) and experiencing various rates of middle-age spread, some more than others. After I got onto this whole fidgeting thing, it occurred to me that the one member of our little group who has gained the least weight with age is the one who is fidgety. He rarely sits still. I've been watching him closely over the past few days and now it's no secret to me why he eats more than the rest of us but isn't getting broader.

I realize fidgeting isn't the whole story here. There are many other factors involved in weight maintenance but I think increasing my level of fidgeting is worth considering. Like any other habit, it seems fidgeting can be learned so I think I'll start swinging my foot while sitting here at the computer with my legs crossed and see how it goes for me.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Is Your Life Your Own?

"The best day in your life is the one in which you decide your life is your own. No apologies or excuses, no one to lean on, rely on, or blame. The gift is yours. It is an amazing journey — and you are alone and responsible for the quality of it. This is THE day your life really begins."
~ Bob Moawad

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Easy and Delicious Blackberry Cobbler

Homemade blackberry cobbler - yum!
August is here and we've got blackberries ripening all around. We're not at the height of the season yet but it's getting close!

If you've got blackberries and want to make an easy dessert, look no further. I've used this recipe for over 40 years and it's always a hit. Giving credit where credit is due - thanks, Mom!


  • 2 c blackberries
  • ¼ c butter
  • ½ c sugar
  • 1 c flour
  • 2 t baking powder
  • ¼ t salt
  • ½ c milk
  • ½ c sugar (yes, another ½ c!)
  • 1 c berry juice (crush some berries and add water to make a full cup, if necessary)


  1. Cream butter and ½ c sugar.
  2. Mix flour, baking powder and salt together and add to creamed mixture alternately with milk. Stir until smooth to form a thick batter.
  3. Spread batter in greased 8"x8" pan and top with berries.
  4. Sprinkle ½ c sugar over the berries and pour juice over top (yes, really - pour it over the top!).
  5. Bake 45-50 minutes at 375 degrees F.

I don't even have to ask for a rating on this one - I know from previous experience that it's a favorite and rates just below cherry pie, so we'll say 12/10 served plain and 14/10 if you add a scoop of vanilla ice cream. How's that for creative ratings?

Monday, August 5, 2013

A Different Take on Alzheimer's Disease

"People think it's a terrible tragedy when somebody has Alzheimer's. But in my mother's case, it's different. My mother has been unhappy all her life. For the first time in her life, she's happy."
~ Amy Tan

Friday, August 2, 2013

Easy Pumpkin Bread

With pumpkins on the vine, I thought it might be a good idea to do something with some of last year’s pumpkin. I usually make muffins but my favorite recipe only calls for ¾ cup and I had 2½! So I improvised and came up with two loaves of delicious pumpkin bread. The following recipe is my modification on several and the next time I make it, I’m going to modify it even more and cut the sugar down to 1 cup. If you have home-pureed pumpkin, use the recipe as is. If you’re using the canned stuff (plain pumpkin, NOT pie filling) add ⅔ cup water with the wet ingredients.

  • 3¼ c flour
  • ½ t baking powder
  • 2 t baking soda
  • 1 ½ t salt
  • ½ t nutmeg (optional but yummy!)
  • 1 t pumpkin pie spice
  • 2 c sugar (I’m cutting the sugar in half next time)
  • 4 large eggs. beaten
  • ½ c oil
  • 2½ c home-pureed pumpkin
  • 1 c chopped walnuts (optional but put them in, ok?)
  1. Mix the dry ingredients (sugar too!) together with a wire whisk.
  2. Stir in the wet ingredients with a wooden spoon.
  3. Stir in the walnuts.
  4. Pour the batter into 2 greased loaf pans.
  5. Bake 50-60 minutes at 350 degrees F.

As usual, this was a big hit and scores right up there with banana bread at 8/10. Enjoy!