Oh the wonders of Photoshop Actions…

05/16/2011 § Leave a comment

I like photography…a lot. I kind of think it’s the perfect art form, for me anyways. I’m not very skilled when it comes to drawing or painting, so behind the lens I feel much more comfortable. Besides a few courses here and there, I really never focused on photography while I was in school. Now that I’ve got some more time on my hands, I’ve been working to improve my skillz.

So why am I blabbering on about photography? That’s because I just discovered the wonderful world of Photoshop Actions. Where these have been my entire life, and how I wasn’t aware of them sooner, I have NO idea but they are AMAZING.

While stumbling around on the web the other day I came across Pioneer Woman Photography and noticed she has an entire section devoted to free Photoshop Actions! I was really excited to find these and even more excited when I found out how easy they are to install and use. So here are some examples of the actions applied to a few photographs that I have taken.

Seventies Action: Before & After

Meet my friends Danielle and Jesse. They are an amazing couple. About two years ago they asked me take engagement photos for them. This was the first time I had ever done anything like that and it was a fun learning experience. As you can tell by the “before” image, the lighting was not really optimal and the image just looks flat. The “Seventies” action really makes this image come to life in ways I did not expect. From the skin tone, to the color of Jesse’s shirt and the texture of the stone, I really love the result!

Colorized: Before & After

Meet Paige. I think in a way you could say she’s my photographic muse. Every time we’re together we work some creative magic. This is a random shot from a couple of weeks ago. I LOVE what the “Colorized” action does to this photo. Even though the “before” image is still good, the action really gives it an edginess that was lacking.

So that’s just a miniscule example of the wonders of Photoshop Actions. I can’t wait to keep playing around! If you’re new to this as well, I hope you’ll give it a go! It’ll make your life so much easier.

[As a Mac user all I had to do to install was click the download. Once it popped into my download file I clicked it again and Photoshop opened automatically. From there I went to Window->Actions and there they were! It took all of 1 minute, and now I can do all kinds of amazing things with my photos until the end of time!]

-BL

*I would also like to note that in no way am I affiliated with any of the sites I mention here. It’s just the things I like :)

The Marshmallow Dilemma: When is too much of a good thing really too much?

05/12/2011 § 2 Comments

It’s no secret that I have an affinity for marshmallow fluff. Chocolate ice cream with marshmallow fluff, to be exact. According to my mom, I’m practically half chocolate and marshmallow as it is, because that’s all she wanted to eat when she was pregnant with me. So when an opportunity arose to buy a large amount of the good stuff for very cheap, what do you think I did? That’s right, I bought a 3 lb. tub of “marshmallow topping” for $3.00.

Visions of rice-crispy treats and chocolaty sweets danced through my head when I came across it on the shelf. Come to find out, there’s only so many fluffernutters a girl can eat. After a couple of spoonfuls, I was completely fluffed out.

chocolate frozen yogurt with marshmallow topping on a warm spring day. gooey deliciousness!

So now I’ve got this monster of awesomeness sitting in my refrigerator that I want nothing to do with, reminding me that sometimes too much of a good thing really is too much.

-BL

Coming soon: 4/20/2011 Macaroni Salad: A Love Story

brooke’s potato pizzaster!

05/11/2011 § 3 Comments

If you stand back, cross your eyes and squint a little, it almost looks like a Pollock painting; minus the corner of course.

potato pizzaster

The road to mastering the art of pizza making (or baking in general) has been a slow and rocky one for me. When I was in college my roommate Jackie and I went through a bit of pizza phase and I got pretty decent at making a pie. Unbeknownst to me, I’ve since lost my pizza-bilities.

I’ve been experimenting with different techniques and lately my go to gals for everything cooking have been Heidi Swanson and Deb of Smitten Kitchen. Any time I have an ingredient and I don’t know what to do with it, I check their recipe indexes first before looking elsewhere. They’ve both officially made it to my ‘bookmark bar’. ANYWAYS, the other day I came across Smitten Kitchen’s section on pizza, so I figured I’d give the whole baking thing another go. She makes it look so easy that it’s really hard to resist.

What you see above is a culmination of a couple of different recipes (I’m a notorious recipe tweaker) and some ingenuity. I use the term “pizzaster” lightly, because it actually came out tasting really good. However about half-way through the cooking process I had to add more sauce and cheese. Oops! Let’s just say, I need a little practice.

Brooke’s Potato Pizzaster! adapted from Smitten Kitchen

Canvas

 dough recipe: For the dough I used SK’s recipe almost exactly. 

1 1/2 cups flour (I used 1/2 cup whole wheat flour. Not sure I would do that again, upon reflection)
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon instant dry yeast
1/2 cup lukewarm water (+1 tablespoon because it was a little dry)
1 tablespoon olive oil (in this case all I had was a canola+olive oil blend, but I don’t think that’s a problem)

To find out how to make the dough look here.

I really have very little experience making dough and I don’t think I properly knead it… My dough was pretty tough and took quite a bit of manipulation to get it to stay still on the baking sheet. I also forgot to dust the pan with cornmeal prior to rolling the pizza out. So, that was fun trying to fix. 

Palette

toppings: you can make this with whatever your little heart desires. 

On hand I had Yukon Gold potatoes, vidalia onion, and white mushrooms. As a base I made a mixture of 3 tablespoons of alfredo sauce and a little bit of oil. I could have gone a little heavier with the amount of toppings, but what I had did the job. I also topped with some spinach and mozzarella cheese and rosemary. 

I set my oven to 400 and let that bad boy cook for about 15 minutes. 

Here’s where the disaster part came about: The spinach crisped up like dried leaves. So those had to go asap. Also it was very dry and the cheese was getting crispy. Discontent with the result, I turned the oven off and was about to say the hell with it! But, I decided to throw on some more alfredo and cheese one top and set it in the oven for a few minutes. 

VOILA, it turned out really well and my mom is a big fan. 

Not so bad after-all. 

-BL