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Home, Knoxville, TN

Tuesday, December 11, 2007
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Why is it that people let the stress of the season get to them and end up being so unhappy and rude? Instead of focusing on the religious, family, charity, and all-around happy aspects of the season, too many people are busy shopping, planning, and stressing out.

Yesterday I stood in line at the post office for over half an hour, but what do you expect this time of year? There were two people working the counter, and one of them had the flu and was obviously feeling really bad. At one point he had to close his "window" to go out and put a sign on a stamp machine that wasn't working, and the people in line behind me about threw a fit. They were all extremely rude and carried on about how they shouldn't have to wait and he didn't need to be taking a break when there was a line etc etc. It was embarrassing.

Later in the day, I drove along behind a car for about 2 miles and saw him honk at no less than 4 different people that he was unhappy with for one reason or another. I even had someone honk at me because I came to a complete stop at a stop sign instead of just getting out of their way.

So I'm thinking that everyone needs to try to relax and cheer up. I know that getting a good bargain or especially getting things for free usually cheers me up so...

I'm going to have some random "happy days". Everyone who qualifies for a given day will be entered in a random drawing to win something (winner announced the next day). The entries will start anew each time, but you can win more than once.

* Today's winner will receive one free 5x7" print with their next order.
* To qualify, you need to share some holiday cheer today by leaving a comment on a photo session post. You can choose any session you want, but those in the last month or two are more likely to be found and appreciated. If you're feeling nice then you can leave several, but it won't increase your chances of winning.

ETA: The "day" will end 24 hours after being posted.
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Farragut, Knoxville, TN

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Whether you own a business or not, it's a good idea to google your own name once in a while and see what you hit. While doing a search today, I hit upon a post in Canadian photographer Robyn's blog where she had tagged me back in September. This fall has been really busy so I'm not keeping up with my friends' blogs as well as I should, but better late than never...

Blog tag is sort of like the modern-day chain letter or those pesky chain emails that can fill up your inbox. The cool part is that instead of just passing it on, you first have to share five things about yourself that relatively few of your blog readers know so ... here you go:

1. I always thought I'd make a good vet. I spent part of my childhood on a farm where I played with pigs, cows, chickens, bugs, worms etc. My mom once caught me trying to pull a snake out of its hole when I was just a toddler. I get queasy when I see blood and wounds on people, but I'm fine when it's an animal.

2. I'm an introvert and prefer one-on-one interactions over groups of people. When I was little I played a lot by myself or with my imaginary friend Scobby. When I was three I had my mouth washed out with soap because I was too shy to ask if I could go to the bathroom during preschool nap time, and I had an accident.

3. As valedictorian of my highschool class, I could have received a four year scholarship to UT. Being from Knoxville, I insisted that I wasn't going to UT and didn't even apply. Instead, I took a scholarship to Furman University where I spent one week before deciding that I didn't want to be that far away from my family. Because I hadn't just applied and started at UT that fall, I couldn't get the scholarship and ended up having to pay for it all.

4. I met my husband in a computer chat room in '96. In 1998 I flew to Sweden to meet him (I'd always wanted to go to Europe), and we've been "together" ever since. We spent holidays and summers  together. He came here a semester. I went there a semester etc, but we had a long distance relationship until he moved here to marry me in 2004.

5. I'm a good driver, but I don't enjoy it.  A few months before I graduated from highschool, I was hit head-on by a drunk driver. The driver was thrown from his car and died on the scene. I totaled my new car and ended up in a ditch full of water. However, I had my seatbelt and airbag so my only injuries were a bump on the head, a sprained ankle, and a broken wrist. I still get really nervous if I have to drive in the rain at night.


6. If anyone out there would like to be tagged then let me know, but otherwise this is the end of this game of tag. I was never very competitive, and I don't really like sports.

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Slab Town train tracks, Logan, WV

Saturday, December 1, 2007
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For Thanksgiving I went to visit family in Logan, West Virginia with my husband Marcus and brother Andrew. The day after Thanksgiving, we were driving around town when Andrew and I decided to jump out and do a few quick photos on the train tracks. We were too cold to stay out for more than a minute, but it was good practice for his senior session next year.

Andrew in West Virginia
Andrew in West Virginia

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Farragut, Knoxville, TN

Wednesday, November 21, 2007
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It's that time of year, and I'll be spending my time with family and eating lots of delicious food. I will not be checking email over the next few days but anything received will get a reply next week. Hope you all have a great holiday!

For all my dedicated blog readers, I've decided to share my recipe for the best EVER sweet potato casserole. I promise that if you make this correctly, everyone will love it.

• 4 cups mashed sweet potatoes (I mash canned yams with the syrup drained off)
• 1/2 cup white sugar
• 2 tablespoons vanilla extract
• 4 eggs, beaten
• 1/2 pint heavy cream
• 1/4 pound butter, melted
• 1 cup packed brown sugar
• 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
• 1 1/4 cups chopped pecans
• 1 cup flaked coconut
• 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
• 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
• 2 cups mini marshmallows

1. Butter one 2 quart casserole dish. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).
2. In a mixing bowl, mash the sweet potatoes; combine with sugar, vanilla extract, eggs, spices, coconut, marshmallows and cream. Blend well, and spread evenly in casserole dish.
3. Bake 20 minutes.
4. Prepare the topping by combining the butter, brown sugar, flour and pecans. Mix until crumbly, and sprinkle over sweet potato mixture.
5. Bake an additional 10 minutes.

**note: When cooked, the casserole will be moist but firm, similar to a souffle consistency. If it is still runny then it is not fully cooked. You may want to test around the edges for doneness before adding the topping because it is easiest to add additional cooking time at this point. Once the topping is on, you can cook for longer but will need to cover with foil so that the nuts don't burn.
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Airport, Alcoa, TN

Friday, October 12, 2007
Earlier this week, we saw a sneak preview of the new movie Dan in Real Life with Steve Carell. I'm an Office fan, but I didn't have high expectations for the movie. It was funny, but I was glad that we got in for free. At the screening, we received tickets for a private screening of Vince Vaughn's Wild West Comedy Show, a documentary about a cross-country comedy tour that Vince and Peter Billingsley put together to showcase some new comics.

We had fun. First they gave everyone a wristband which entitled you to a free bag of popcorn and a drink at the concessions stand. Once inside the theater, Vince gave a brief introduction and then sat in the crowd and watched the movie with us. The movie is funny although it's always more fun to see movies like that with a large crowd. Laughing is contagious, and it's more comfortable to laugh out loud when hundreds of others are doing the same. Afterward, Vince introduced a surprise guest... Peter Billingsley! The Christmas Story is one of my favorite holiday movies and one of the only movies I've ever liked enough to actually purchase and watch repeatedly. It was fun to see Ralphie all grown up. The two did a short Q&A before Vince did a quick exit out the back.

One of the funniest scenes of the night had to be the moment when Vince first got in front of the crowd. Everyone had their camera phones out trying to take pictures, and he said he felt like an ape at the zoo. It reminded me of the last time I visited Cades Cove, and we were stuck behind a guy trying to take pictures from a moving truck (with his phone) of a deer that was about 30 feet away in a dark forest. His deer pictures probably looked very similar to the pictures that everyone took of Vince in the dark theater tonight. Unfortunately, I didn't take any pics of Vince, but here are some photos I took of a "celebrity" who visited Knoxville about 5 years ago.

Movie Review: Wild West Comedy Show
Movie Review: Wild West Comedy Show

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Welcome to the Nancy Hellsten Photography blog! This is the place to be if you’re looking for wedding ideas and photography promotions or if you just want to view some great photos and see what I’ve been up to. If you or someone you know are getting married, having a baby, or just want some relaxed portraits with the family, please visit my website or contact me for more information. I would love to hear from you. Thanks for visiting and check back often to see what’s new.