Category Archives: camera

Golden Globes and Craft

From the Beverly Hilton in Los Angeles, California, this is live with Sarah Murphy.

golden globes, simply social blog

Just kidding.

We’re not live. And I’m not in Los Angeles. And that photo is actually from one of my best friend’s weddings. Doesn’t she make a beautiful bride though?

Speaking of beautiful, it feels like California today here in Chicago as we approach 40 degrees. Can you believe it? Pretty soon we’ll be back to laying on the beach, al fresco dining and river boat cruises. It’s amazing how much above zero temps can lift the spirit.

So who watched the Golden Globes last night? I only caught the first half but it was enough time to pick my favorite dresses, get a few laughs in and awkwardly change the channel when Jacqueline Bisset came on stage.

Here are my favorites in no particular order:

golden globe dresses, taylor swift, olivia wilde, Lupita Nyong'o, best dressed, simply social blog

My absolute favorite dress of the night was that of Lupita Nyong’o. Something about her radiant skin against that beautiful red just draws you in. And the cape is just awesome.

And speaking of favorites, a few weeks back I ordered some prints of some of my most-loved Instagram photos. They came in the mail this weekend so I wanted to share the love with you. If you’re into Instagram (most are) and wanted to do something more with the photos in your stream (most do), you need to check out Social Print Studio and Printstagram.

social print studio instagram prints, greater swiss mountain dog photobomb, simply social blog

Don’t mind Finn. He’s so vain. He probably thinks this post is about him. Seriously though. The kid photobombs everything I try to capture.

So I have all these photos electronically, but I wanted to do more with them than just create flipagrams year after year. For $12, you can get 24, 4 inch by 4 inch prints for your use. There’s plenty of other products too but I love that these prints are 1) good quality and 2) large enough to make an impact.

For a while now I’ve been debating about what to hang above my bed. I have a floral canvas up there currently and it’s fine, but I’ve always wanted something a little more personal. I think I’m on the right track with these prints so I’m testing it out for a week or so to see if I like it. Not sure yet whether I will paint the canvas, leave it as-is or go another route.

instagram prints on canvas, DIY bedroom art, photo wall, gallery wall, printstagram, social print studio, simply social blog

I get bored with my home decor so I like to change it up often. I’m hoping that whatever this piece ends up as, I’ll be able to change out the photos to keep it fresh. The stock quality is good on these so I don’t worry about curling edges or them fading over time.

So go get yourself some. And just for full disclosure, aside from them taking my payment and sending me my order (promptly via FedEx, signature required) the Social Print Studio/Printstagram folks had nothing to do with this post. Not that I wouldn’t appreciate getting to try cool new stuff and review it or anything, but that’s not happening here.

What was your favorite moment from the Golden Globes?

Do you do anything with your Instagram photos?

Have you ever won an award? 

Photographic ramblings

Today, instead of my normal ramblings, I’m going to pretend to be a photographer and share with you a “client post.” You know, kind of like this one. Just kidding. Can you tell I spent incessant amounts of time swooning over her yummy light skillz? Can you believe a daughter of writers would allow skillz to be written in her blog? Yeah me neither.

I’m no photographer. I have a camera with a decent lens that I use for pretty much everything (i.e. cookies and pumpkin muffins). I’ve taken a few photography classes so I am at least confident enough to have avoided my auto setting for a few years now, but I still have a long way to go. All those things considered, my sister still asks me to get a few shots of my nephews each year for her Christmas cards.

Let me tell you how it goes down.

Can you bring your camera home this weekend?

Sure. What for?

I need a picture of the boys. 

A picture. Just one. No pressure right? Wrong.

Nearly every year we get stuck with crappy weather. Combine that with my amateur photog status and some very impatient boys and you’re in for a real treat. Photographers don’t get paid enough. Come to think of it neither do I. They may make those shots look easy but chances are they had to reference farts, poop and butts at least 50 times in order to get a good smile.

simply social blog, photography, nephews

I wonder what kind of faces you would get if you used this tactic on girls? 

The moral of the story is that even though we had less than ideal settings last year, my favorite images were the ones where I could see the boys’ personalities come out. And that’s something that I think shines through even without yummy light.

simply social blog, photography, nephews

So this year I was excited to wake up to warm sunshine on Sunday morning. I immediately text my sister and said that we were coming over before church to take advantage of the good light and the not-yet-sleepy-or-hungry-or-cranky boys.

Wouldn’t you know just as we pull into the driveway the rain starts. You can read more about the storm we had this weekend here.

Believe it or not in just about 10 minutes, I managed to get the boys to agree to 4 locations, all of which were surrounding my sister’s house. Here’s a tip for parents who want a good shot of your kids. Don’t make it too difficult. Take pictures of them where they live, where they play. They will be more likely to agree with you if they don’t have to work as hard. If that doesn’t work, bribe them with candy.

We started on the porch swing but I wasn’t loving the shadows and I didn’t have much time to manipulate my camera for fear I would lose them forever.

photography, children, nephews, springfield illinois, simply social blog

So we quickly moved over to the side of the house to get a few shots along the brick wall. My sister had originally wanted to go downtown to get a similar shot, but I was hoping we could capture the same effect just a few steps away.

photography, children, nephews, springfield illinois, simply social blog

The little one is best when you catch him off-guard…and before he runs away. Don’t ask him to smile. Just patiently wait for him to let his guard down and he’ll give you the sweetest look ever.

photography, children, nephews, springfield illinois, simply social blog
There were a lot of what I like to call “the lookaway” photos in the bunch. But here’s a tip. If you snap fast enough, the lookaway can lead to a lookrightatcha.

photography, children, nephews, springfield illinois, simply social blog

So now we are on the side of the house walking to the backyard. Knowing how much the older one likes to pose with his hands in his pockets I decided to have them stand against the fence.

photography, children, nephews, springfield illinois, simply social blog

This is how it started.

photography, children, nephews, springfield illinois, simply social blog

Serious pose. #nailedit. I’m nearly 30 and I still just look constipated whenever I try it. I’d love to show you the next in the series but I don’t want to ruin the surprise for those of you getting this year’s Christmas card. Hint-they both smile and look at the camera. I love surprises. Sue me.

We’ll end with my favorite photo of the bunch. If I could go back I would have taken the 10 seconds I needed to adjust my focus so Owen isn’t blurry. But had I done that I might have missed out on my favorite Jake face.

photography, children, nephews, springfield illinois, simply social blog

So there you have it. 4 locations in one. 10 minutes. HOHOHO Merry Christmas.

photography, children, nephews, springfield illinois, simply social blog

Hope you are having a great week. Be sure to hug your photographer the next time you have a session.

Triple Berry Trifle

Remember when I used to post recipes? You know, actual recipes of real food. Between the juicing and the travel, I’ve been on a bit of a cooking hiatus. And I’ve been informed as of late that not everyone is a fan of my juice cleanse posts. So fortunately for all of you the cleanse is over and I actually cooked this week.

We had a few birthdays to celebrate this June so after a few scheduling attempts, my girlfriends and I were able to get together for a casual summer dinner last night. Even Ella joined in on the celebration.

triple berry trifle simply social blog

I’m ready for solid food, mom!

But before I get into the recipe details let’s catch up on the other excitement happening this week. In case you’ve been living under a rock (or don’t live in Chicago) you might not have heard that the Blackhawks won their second Stanley Cup in 3 years on Monday night and the city has been buzzing with excitement ever since. And seeing as how I live down the street from the United Center, I did what only felt natural after the final horn blared, I banged my new cast iron skillet while standing on my balcony and then dragged my boyfriend (half-shaven playoff beard and all) outside to join the celebration. Because that’s just what you do when a team wins a championship. You take it to the streets!

blackhawks stanley cup champions simply social blog

As you can see from my photos the West Loop got crazy. Not really. This was the extent of it. It was nothing like the madness that would soon occur in Wrigleyville but fun nonetheless. The biggest problem cops in our neighborhood ran into was people standing on top of the planters in the middle of the road to get a shot of the crowd. Not that I did that or anything. You can also see from the photo how thrilled Matt was to have accompanied me down to the festivities. Perhaps stopping him in the midst of shaving the playoff beard had something to do with it. Or the cast iron skillet banging. Whatever the case he was a good sport and he’ll thank me for it later in life. Or in another life. At some point he’ll thank me.

Tuesday was just your average workday until one of my co-workers nonchalantly mentioned that the cup was downstairs in my building. Say what? A couple of higher-ups brought it to an event down at Phil Stefani’s and word spread fast. Mostly by me. Just minutes before I had mentioned to my sister that me sending her the cup-tracker google map link did not mean I was stalking it like a Bieber fan, but rather that I thought the feature was cool. I believe my exact words were, ‘Besides, it’s not like it would ever come here’.

stanley cup blackhawks chicago phil stefanis simply social blog

photo on the left is mine, right courtesy of Tim Kline

And whaddya know, it did.

All of the cup excitement rubbed off on Finn too as he decided to 1) obstruct my only method of spying on him throughout the day and then 2) throw a party. Kids these days.

greater swiss mountain dog beer can simply social blog

We have a little break in the excitement before the big parade tomorrow so it left just enough time for our birthday dinner. Since we were having the dinner over at one of the guest of honor’s condo, I wanted to make something easy to transport and light for the summer. So naturally, I made a 8+ layer trifle, stopping halfway up because I was only feeding 4 people. Ha.

triple berry red white and blue trifle simply social blog

Triple Berry Trifle

  • 4 shortcake cups, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 pint strawberries, sliced
  • 1 pint blueberries
  • 1 pint raspberries


  • 6 TBL sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 1/2 C cold water
  • 1 package vanilla instant pudding
  • 9 oz fat-free frozen whipped topping, thawed

In a medium bowl, whisk water and sweetened condensed milk until combined. Add pudding mix and stir for another minute or so. Let mixture set for 1-2 minutes. Layer on top of cake and then scrape it off after realizing you forgot cool whip. Fold in cool whip. Now you’re ready to layer.

red white and blue trifle simply social blog

Start with a layer of cake and then alternate blueberries, pudding and sliced strawberries. Repeat until you reach desired height, run out of ingredients, or just become disgusted at just how large that trifle dish is. Top layer should be an attempt at a pretty pattern of strawberries and blueberries.

triple berry trifle simply social blog

Don’t worry it never looks as good as the pictures predict it will. Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour. I did mine the night before and just took it out to bring it to room temp before serving.

Prefer the original? get the full recipe from 

triple berry trifle simply social blog

It just so happens that this triple berry trifle would be a great addition to an upcoming 4th of July BBQ. Get it? Because it has red, white and blue berries? Trust me I didn’t plan it this way. Lord knows I don’t typically get around to posting a 4th of July recipe til at least Labor Day. But hey, sometimes things just work out.

Way to go Hawks!

Sad Finn Diary

Last week I came across this sad dog diary video. There’s a cat version out there too. Take a minute and watch it.

Ok now stop laughing. Since I can’t get this out of my head, I thought I would let Finn share his take on this weekend’s activities. That and I realized my phone is chock full of sad Finn photos. So without further ado, I bring you the Sad Finn Diary.

greater swiss mountain dog sad dog diary

Dear Diary,

My human has returned home from Minnesota and started grinding up all of her food instead of eating it whole. I know not yet the reason. She shoves perfectly shaped fruit into a loud machine until nothing is left but a pulp. Perhaps a form of self mutilation? I need more time to research. I have taken to eating items to induce sickness in solidarity. But for some reason my human is feeding me nothing but chicken and rice this week. It is delicious and I feel guilty but satisfied. I’m afraid she will have to learn this lesson on her own. Poor human.

My human shared my ‘tricks’ with the world through a new Instagram video feature this weekend. At least that’s what she told me. I don’t know what this Instagram she speaks so highly of but I don’t think I like it. Aside from the exhausting task that ‘high-fiving’ has on a 75 pound species like me, she asked me to do it twice. I can only assume this is because I knocked her device out of her hand the first time. I don’t think she realized I did it purposefully. I fear the device is brainwashing her. I must stop it.

greater swiss mountain dog sad dog diary simply social blog

I received a new chewing device this weekend. Well two of them. I assume this is a sign that the other items in the house were not meant for this purpose. Specifically those that my humans sit on. I pretend to be interested as my humans try to decide what animal my new chewing device represents. The discussion of lobster versus sting ray goes on far longer than it should. Since I can’t don’t care to add anything to the conversation, I focus on the similarity in taste between my new plastic stick and the ottoman leg. I determine that this substitute will suffice for now. But not forever.

greater swiss mountain dog sad dog diary simply social blog

On Sunday my humans took me for a ride in the car. I didn’t know where we were traveling but I was very excited nonetheless. As the building disappeared and the fields grew wider, I considered that they might be taking me back to my place of origin. I could not be sure. Contemplation makes me tired. I must rest.

greater swiss mountain dog sad dog diary simply social blog

When we arrived at our destination I realized that my humans were meeting with other family members to sit under tents and talk. I spotted two other dogs across the yard. They looked familiar but it would take at least 15 minutes of butt-sniffing to determine how I knew them. Their humans called them by name: Harley and Charlie. According to my human they were my cousins. I’ve yet to determine how that is possible. 

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I soon realized that this wasn’t just a family gathering but a challenge of superiority between my kinfolk. The smell of grilled meat and beer wafted through the warm air as we clumsily tried to reacquaint ourselves after months of isolation. I chewed a stick to calm my nerves. It tasted much more authentic than the plastic version.

greater swiss mountain dog sad dog diary simply social blog

There were children at the gathering as well. Some newer than others. My human thought they were adorable but to me they smelled of milk and mixed vegetables. To each their own I suppose.

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We left the gathering some time later and began our drive back home. Exhaustion from the day’s events soon sunk in. I didn’t reign superior on speed, agility or weightlifing, but I did manage to be the only one brave enough snatch the victory napkin flag from the matriarch. And for that I am proud. I will voluntarily wedge myself into the smallest nook of the floorboard and reflect on how I can improve my skills before the next gathering. 


I am starting to think that my human is afraid of me. Nearly every morning after I show her how to pee outdoors, she puts me back inside and runs away. Just today she offered me a treat but then ran away before she delivered it. Is this some sort of sign? She did glance at that wicked device first.  I will pull all of the dish towels from the counter in protest until she returns home.

greater swiss mountain dog sad dog diary simply social blog

Canon Camera Love…

>Santa must have been sick of me complaining about point and shoot and iPhone food photos because I finally made the jump to DSLR world this weekend!

And as soon as I recover from my baking binge, I expect to share better photos on the blog from here on out. Between a new food processor, chef’s mat and this puppy, hopefully I’ll get some motivation here soon.