Tuesday, December 29, 2009

I Heart Faces week 51

Week 51 - "Hilarious Outtakes" Photo Challenge

Here are all the details for our "Hilarious Outtakes" theme:
Have you ever gone through your photos and found some that were just too funny for words? Either the person has a weird look on their face, the child was picking their nose, the body was in an awkward angle, or...the possibilities are endless! This is your week to feature not one...but FIVE of those photos in your I Faces entry!Anyone is welcome to participate (only one entry per person though.)You can enter your post on Mon or TuesInstead of just having one photo in your entry, we are allowing you to have up to five. They must all be in the same blog post and if there are more than five photos in your post, you will not be eligible to win.
You need to put the I Faces button in your post.Pick the photos that make you laugh out loud when you see them. Tickle the judge's funny bone and you might see your photo featured on our site!

OK, this is quite possibly the best i faces theme ever. I funny faces, and have a few great photos saved up, so this theme is perfect...and long overdue!

Anyone who regularly checks out my photo challenge entries knows who this is...Lil' J. I got some really great photos on this unseasonably warm May afternoon while we were at The Knight Spot for our first ice cream cone of the season. At first she sat by patiently while I flashed the camera in her face, but eventually, I got this. I almost deleted it, but it cracked me up so I didn't...and I'm glad!

This is my cousin Emily. It was Cookie Day 2008. We were in the midst of frosting dozens upon dozens of cookies when Emily dropped one of the freshly-frosted treats face-down. We laughed til we cried when we saw the elf-shaped imprint on her shirt. What can I say...after a loooong day of baking (and much caffeine...), just about anything is funny.

Another one from Christmas 2008. This is my cousin Cobi. I only get to see him once a year, so I was trying to get some cute pics while I could. I managed to get a few good ones, including one of him in a Santa Hat, but of course, being 2 years old he did what 2-year-olds do best when the cameras come out...turn into a big ol' goofball. *sigh*

This is my wonderful friend Pam. Back in September I was on my very first trip to NYC and she, now a resident of the city, was acting as my tourguide. Being the mature 20-somethings we are, we had to make a stop at Toys 'R Us. We walked past a display of these odd looking dolls, called Therapy Buddies or something like that, and of course had to play with them. You know how the saying goes...Growing older is mandatory. Growing up is optional. :)

Last but not least is this little gem. My great aunt passed away in early September, and after the funeral my family gathered at a local restaraunt for lunch. Being a rather solemn occasion, with everyone nicely dressed, I thought I could get a nice pic of my mom (on the left) and her sisters. No such luck. She and my Aunt Donna immediately went into crazy mode as my Aunt Linda stood obliviously by and my sister Karla somehow slipped into the shot in back. Should have known...I have a nearly identical photo from my great uncle's wedding a few years back. Ditto what I said above about growing up... ;)

Think those are funny? Well then, hop on over to the i faces blog for more side-splitting, gut-busting, gasping for breath, tears rolling down your face, almost peeing your pants good times!!!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Pets Only

Week 49 - "Pets Only" Photo Challenge

It's "Pets Only" week over at the i faces blog. Not an easy week for me...I have literally hundreds, if not thousands, of photos of my dog and cat to choose from, with more being added every week! I finally decided to go with this one of my sweet Dixie dog.

We've had Dixie for over 8 years now. She came to us as a stray, so we didn't know how old she was then, but the vet said she was probably 5-8 years old at the time. As such, the poor old girl could be 15 or 16 by now. You can see by this picture that her face is going pretty white now, but it's still one of the prettiest doggie faces I've ever seen! At this point her hearing is pretty bad, her eyesight is going, she has terrible arthritis in her back legs and her appetite isn't too good. I think it's safe to say she probably won't be with us a whole lot longer. Despite all her problems, though, she's still the sweetest thing and it will be heartbreaking when she passes away. Even though we've only had her 8 years it feels like she's been a part of the family forever.

For more furry, feathered and finned friends, trot on over to the i faces blog by clicking on the i faces button or this link.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Sweet Dreams

Week 48 - Sweet Dreams

Photo Challenge

It's time for another i faces photo challenge! This week's theme is "Sweet Dreams." I have many, many photos at my disposal that fit this theme, but I knew right away that this one would be my entry.

Lil' J and I had been going non-stop all day...bike riding, roller skating, swimming at her friend's house...and we weren't home 5 minutes before she crashed. Didn't even make it to her bed...an easy chair is just fine for her! As long as she has her blanket, she's good to go. As you can see, she was so tired that she forgot to take off her sunglasses!

For more fabulous photos, head on over to the i faces blog.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

It's Tooshie week at I ♥ Faces!

I got this shot back in April, when we were having better weather than we had the whole rest of the summer. Lil J was playing hopscotch and decided to get a little silly. :)

For more tooshies, check out the I ♥ Faces blog!

Friday, November 20, 2009

comfort food

As mentioned in my last post, the weather is starting to turn. Days are shorter, nights are colder, and it leaves me wishing for some real comfort foods, good, hearty meals that fill my belly and warm me right up. One of my favorite comfort foods? Shepherd's pie. I've had it at a few different pubs, but a few weeks ago I finally decided to try my hand at making one. (Though since I made mine with beef, not lamb, it was technically cottage pie, but how many people really know the difference?)

I found a recipe in The Irish Pub Cookbook by Margaret M. Johnson, though I tweeked it a bit to suit my tastes and thought I'd share it, in case any of you are looking for some good comfort food too!


3 tablespoons canola oil

2 lbs stew beef (you can use ground beef - or lamb - but I prefer the big chunks of meat)

salt and pepper

1 med onion chopped

1 bag frozen veggies (I like the Birdseye ones with carrots, peas, corn and green beans, but use whatever you like...fresh carrots would probably be good too)

parsley (I used dried, fresh would probably be better if you have it)

thyme (again, I used dried but fresh would work)

1 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

3 cups low-sodium beef broth (or homemade beef stock if you have it on hand. I'm not exactly Suzy Homemaker, so I don't.)


2 lbs russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces

1/2 cup milk

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

3 tablespoons grated cheese (original recipe calls for cheddar, I used Kerrygold Dubliner cheese instead and it was delish! Would also be fine without cheese)

1. Warm 2 tablespoons of the oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add meat and cook til browned. Season w/ salt and pepper. Transfer to large bowl.

2. Add remaining oil to pan. Add onion and cook til soft but not browned. Add veggies, parsley and thyme, stir and cook 2-3 minutes. Stir in flour, cook 1-2 minutes, add broth. Bring to boil, scraping up browned bits from bottom of pan. Add meat, reduce heat to low, simmer 20-25 minutes until meat is tender and sauce is thickened. Season again w/ salt and pepper. (I found the salt, pepper, parsley and thyme to be a little bland...next time I plan on trying some paprika, garlic powder and maybe a little crushed red pepper, but feel free to use whatever you like.)

3. Preheat oven to 425 F.

4. Cook potatoes in boiling salted water until tender, about 12-15 minutes. Drain and mash. Add milk and butter and stir until smooth.

5. Transfer stew to large casserole dish. Spread (or pipe if you're feeling artsy and have time) mashed potatoes over the meat mixture and bake 10-12 minutes or until hot. Preheat boiler for a few minutes and sprinkle potatoes w/ the grated cheese. Place pie under broiler - 4 inches from heat source - and broil 1-2 minutes or until potatoes are lightly browned and cheese is bubbling.

There you have it, the perfect comfort food for a cold, rainy/snowy evening! To add to the authentic pub grub feel, why not whip up a brown soda bread to go with it? It's super quick and easy, and the leftovers are great for brown bread apple cobbler!

My brown soda bread recipe comes from The Irish Spirit, also by Margaret M. Johnson. Both great books, definitely worth buying if you're into Irish faire!

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 cups whole-wheat flour

1 cup plus 1 tablespoon McCann's quick-cooking (not instant) Irish oatmeal (kind of hard to locate, but worth the effort...I found it in Hannaford's organic section)

2 1/4 cups buttermilk (also hard to find except around the holidays...I did the old milk and lemon juice trick and it worked fine)

1 large egg, lightly beaten

Preheat oven to 325 F. Grease a baking sheet.

In large bowl, sift together the all-purpose flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Stir in whole-wheat flour and 1 cup of oats. Make a well in the center and pour in the buttermilk and egg. With a wooden spoon, stir until the mixture forms a soft dough. With floured hands, form the dough into 2 rounds. Transfer to baking sheet and sprinkle with remaining oats. Bake 35-40 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from oven and let cool on a wire rack.

I served the bread with butter, but it would probably be really yummy with jam or jelly too.

Brown Bread Apple Cobbler (again, from The Irish Spirit.)

1/2 cup water

5 tablespoons Irish whiskey (I used Jameson, whatever you have on hand is probably fine)

1/3 cup golden raisins (I used regular raisins because I couldn't find golden raisins. Next time I might try dried mixed berries or dried cherries for fun)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

4 large apples, peeled, cored and cut into 1/2 inch pieces (recipe calls for Granny Smith, I used Cortland because I like them better and they worked fine)

1/3 cup granulated sugar

2 cups brown soda bread crumbs

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

1/2 cup packed light brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon (my family looooves cinnamon, so I added a bit more)

1. In small saucepan over med heat, bring water and whiskey to a boil. Stir in raisins and vanilla. Remove from heat, cover, and let stand 1 hour or until raisins have soaked up most of the liquid.

2. Preheat oven to 375 F. Butter an 8-9 inch square baking dish.

3. In large bowl, toss the apples w/ the granulated sugar. Stir in raisins and cooking liquid.

4. In med bowl combine bread crumbs, butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon. (I also threw in 1/3 cup of quick-cooking oatmeal but you don't need it.) Transfer half the apple mixture to dish. Top with half the breadcrumb mixture. Repeat layers with remaining apples and bread crumbs. Bake 50-55 minutes or until apples are tender, filling is bubbling, and topping is browned and crisp. (I found 50 minutes to be too much as the topping burned a bit...40-45 minutes is probably good.) Remove from oven and cool on wire rack about 10 minutes.

The recipe says to top with creme anglaise or poitin ice cream. I have no time (or desire) to make poitin ice cream and I tried the creme anglaise once and found it not to be worth the effort. Whipped cream works just find and vanilla ice cream, while not a particular favorite of mine, is ALWAYS good with apples!

I hope you enjoy these recipes and give them a try! I have a few other new recipes that I've tried recently (lambchops braised in Guinness and Parknasilla pork chops w/ crushed potatoes)...I'll be glad to share them if anyone's interested!

What are some of your favorite comfort foods?

change of seasons

Wow. It seems like just yesterday that I was posting photos of our fall foliage, but apparently that is not the case! The leaves are gone and everythings gone brown and bare. Usually, this signals the beginning of winter, but we've actually been pretty lucky so far. We've had some cold nights, but not one snowflake as of yet. Actually, we've not had much rain lately either, which is odd for this time of year. No complaints from me, though! I'll take a green Thanksgiving (and Christmas too!) over snow anytime.
This tree was a beautiful yellow-orange color.

This bush had the most breathtaking crimson leaves...nothing but berries left now.

So, what does it look like right now in your neck of the woods? Any winter weather yet? Are you looking forward to winter, or, like me, do you wish it could stay fall all year long?

Monday, November 16, 2009

I Heart Faces Autumn Beauty challenge

Week 45 -

"Autumn Beauty" Photo Challenge

Let me just say that I LOVE this week's theme...fall is my absolute favorite season of all. :) This photo was taken last fall, in September. It was actually pretty early in the season but lil J really, really, really wanted to play in the leaves so I raked the whole front yard to get this little pile together. It was worth the effort...she jumped and twirled and threw and had a grand old time for over an hour, and I, in return, got many great shots. This is one of my favorites from that afternoon. While she was making a leaf bouquet for me I snuck up and called her name...she glanced up at me briefly and I was lucky enough to get this shot before she went back to her project.

For more fantastic fall photos, hop on over to the I ♥ Faces blog by clicking on the link or on the I ♥ Faces button below.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

NEW fall items at The Laughing Girl

Stop by The Laughing Girl on Etsy to check out these items and more! More pieces will be added soon...time to start stocking up for the holidays! Keep an eye out for winter/Christmas pieces coming in the next few weeks.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Friday, October 30, 2009

Fix It Friday


My Fixes:

For more fantastic fixes, click on the link or button to head on over to the I ♥ Faces blog!

Monday, October 26, 2009

I Heart Faces week 42

Week 42 - “Halloween Dress-Up” Photo Challenge
Dress up the kiddos or your spouse and start snapping away! It's "Halloween Dress-Up" week here at I ♥ Faces!
All photos entered this week need to feature a person in them that is dressed up for Halloween fun. (If you do not celebrate Halloween, feel free to enter a photo of anyone who is in dress-up for another occasion...ie. a Renaissance theater actor, face paint at a carnival, little girl having a princess tea party, etc.)
A face (even if it's a painted face) must be clearly visible in your photo entry! :)

Well, this picture was actually taken at Christmas, but I think it qualifies as dress-up! My mom had put these glasses in my dad's stocking as a gag gift, and we had a blast passing them around. 3 years later, this picture of my little cousin Cali still cracks me up.
SPECIAL PETS CATEGORY: While you're making your kids and spouse get dressed up for this challenge, dress-up your pet at the same time! We are going to be featuring a second (non-judged) Pets Category. Any photo entered into this category should feature an animal (any animal, not just pets!) that is dressed up in any way. How cute will this be?!

This photo was taken at Christmastime as well. (What can I say...we're not big on Halloween here - with the exception of my younger sister - but we go crazy for Christmas!) That's my sweet Dixie Doodle, and clearly she is thrilled to be dressed up in her snowman bandana and reindeer antlers.

For more dress-up fun, hop on your broomstick and fly on over to the I ♥ Faces blog!