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Home, Knoxville, TN

Wednesday, January 16, 2008
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This isn't photography related, but I've been sick with a migraine this week. I'll get pics of from Saturday's wedding as soon as I can.

Brrr...  I haven't actually had to go out into the cold, but the weather men say that it's darn chilly out there so yesterday I made chili. I'm not a fancy cook, and my main requirement for a meal is that it is simple. Here's my simple chili in case anyone else is in the mood for a warm and easy meal.

Main ingredients from the pantry (Bet you'll never guess which grocery store I use):
It's Chilly Outside

  • 2 pounds ground beef
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 2 1/2 cups tomato sauce (most of a 29oz can)
  • 1 (16 oz) jar salsa (choose the spiciness you prefer)
  • 4 tablespoons chili seasoning mix
  • 1 (15 oz) can light red kidney beans
  • 1 (15 oz) can dark red kidney beans

    DIRECTIONS

    1. In a large saucepan over medium heat, combine the ground beef and the onion and saute for 10 minutes, or until meat is browned and onion is tender. Drain grease, if desired.
    2. Add the ground black pepper, garlic salt, tomato sauce, salsa, chili seasoning mix and kidney beans. Mix well, reduce heat to low and simmer for at least an hour.

    NOTES

    • I don't like cutting up onions so I often leave it out and just use the chunky salsa with onions.
    • No you do not have to drain the cans of beans. Just dump them in.
    • We buy a 3lb package of ground turkey and brown it all at once over medium/high heat (stirring constantly). I then use one pound to make something (like spaghetti or hamburger helper) and keep the other 2 pounds in the fridge for chili the next day.
    • Dump the meat and remaining ingredients in a spaghetti pot, cover, and bring it to a boil before turning the heat down to low (2/10). Stir the chili after ten minutes. If it starts to stick to the pot then the heat is too high. If it isn't bubbling then the heat is a little low. Just be sure to stir regularly during cooking or it can stick and burn on the bottom.

      Chili is also really good served over tortilla chips with cheddar cheese, tomato, and sour cream on top, but this is what I had available.
      It's Chilly Outside

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    On Location, Knoxville, TN

    Thursday, January 10, 2008
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    Happy 2008, and I hope you all had a wonderful holiday season! After a few weeks away, I am finally back sleeping in my own bed!

    So where have I been? I first went on a Christmas cruise to the Caribbean with my brother, my husband, and his family. Then we spent New Years in Miami before I flew to Tampa for a photography convention where I was inspired and educated by some of the best photographers in the world.

    I'll try to post photos from my trip later, but here are a few portraits that I did of my convention roommate who recently started her own business in Texas - Jennifer Kelly Fine Photography.

    I'm Back!
    I'm Back!
    I'm Back!

    I'm Back!
    I'm Back!
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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
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    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.

    Finally....

    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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    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.

    INGREDIENTS:
    • 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

    DIRECTIONS:
    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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    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.
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