Authentic Filipino Flan

My aunt gave me this Flan recipe many years ago. I LOVE FLAN. It's my all time favorite dessert!

10 egg yolks
14 oz sweetened condensed milk
12 oz evaporated milk
3 TBS margarine
3 TBS brown sugar
1) Whisk together yolks and both milks
2) Melt margarine in saucepan, med. heat
3) Stir in brown sugar. Stir until smooth. Spread mixture over bottom of 9 inch pie plate, let cool for a few minutes* then pour in egg mixture and Spread it over the bottom
4) Cover with foil. Steam for 65-70 minutes. Cool for at least 30 minutes. I put it in the fridge to cool faster!
*I added this because I just remembered that if you don't let the mixture cool, it will cook the eggs!

A Year in the Making

This past weekend, I was honored to take pictures for a client who published his first book. It was written for the very special people in his life, his closest friends.
"A true friend not only accepts who you are, but helps you become the very best of who you are"







A Day in the Sun

Living in California, I take for granted that we will have sunny days more often than not. Before I moved here with my family many many years ago, my friends were either afraid for my life - "You're going to die in an earthquake!" - or envious that I would be able to spend every waking day by the beach. Ha! I wish. It does get cold here, even snowy, as evidence by my previous posts. Even on the coldest days, though, I remember what cold really is and am grateful for days like the one I spent with one of my dear friends and her family last summer.

I had just discovered lifestyle and photojournalistic family photography (say THAT 10 times fast) and wanted to give it a shot (pun intended). Kim is one of those people that will try almost anything once and enjoys helping people. In fact, she worked overseas in Japan as an Air Force doctor many years ago, and then worked as a physician until after her daughter was born. She loves all kinds of art and is super friendly, which is one of the main reasons she and I became friends.

I spent a few hours with her and her family (Kim and her daughter mostly, although I sneaked a few of Josh) one day last summer. It was a warm day, so they spent much of the time in the pool. I knew that they were close; but it was so nice seeing it first hand and recording some of their moments for them. It is my hope that they will look back on these photos and smile.



It's a beautiful thing

I met Tracy when my daughter was in ballet, eons ago. Our daughters became best friends in third grade and they are inseparable. They have one of those friendships that a day doesn't go by when they don't talk on the phone (even when they spend the day together). It has been a blessing to have her and her family in our lives.

Last week, I had the chance to give her family their first family photo session. This is one of the reasons I do what I do - give families something to look back on, especially when time slips away, unnoticed. It's a beautiful thing.



Sacramento is the city of trees. It  is also surrounded by trails, if you know where to look. I saw this today on a walk. I didn't notice the hikers on the trail until I uploaded the picture.


WOW. Gives you perspective, doesn't it?


Fall Paths

I love to run through streets
Covered in fallen leaves
I feel as though I'm running though crayon shavings
made only with Autumn hues
I hear the crunch
I feel the squish
I see the reds, oranges, and yellows
Under my feet
Above my head
Swirling in the sky









Nature's Fall Wardrobe

There are so many reasons why I love Autumn: curling up in my warm bed in the cold morning, relaxing under warm blankets in my cozy living room in the evening, wearing my warm, comfy socks while I am doing my chores, and the feeling that I could just stay home and watch the weather outside. This is a joy, especially after a very hot summer that didn't seem to end. I have to say, though, being the Visual Creative that I am, my favorite part of fall is what it looks like. Reds, Oranges, Yellows, even milk chocolate Browns; What other season gives us these earthy yet vibrant colors?

Earth is finally donning her Fall wardrobe.





Sugar on Leaves

A Haiku for you:

The NIP in the AIR
The FROST on the COLD, HARD ground
Feels like WINTER's here

During my photography walk yesterday, I saw this. They look like sugared cookies, don't they? Yellow, orange, and red maple leaves covered a small yard - it made me think of  leaf-motif rugs and how they would look if a little child accidentally spilled a bowl of sugar on them.

Despite the chilly temperatures, it felt good to be walking around, compared to the 90 degree weather from just a few short weeks ago.








I'm not lost, I just don't know where I am

Don't you hate it when you think you know where you are going but you don't, really? I went on a photography adventure today to Nevada City. I love the fall color there and the old buildings. I decided to go Old School, instead of using my cell phone for directions, I printed out the directions from the Chamber of Commerce. The directions said " The road will soon curve to the left, the pavement will end and you will be on a one-lane dirt road that parallels Deer Creek."

Sounds easy enough, yeah?

The road didn't curve; it instead went straight to a private residence, complete with warning signs about home security. I'm sorry, I didn't feel like trespassing today.

No matter, I turned to where I thought I saw a path, passed a brick wall, clambered down towards the sound of rushing water and this is what I saw:




I don't know if I was on the trail, but I thought the view was nice anyway. Someday, I will return and find that trail with the suspension bridge. Maybe if I am lucky, the owners of that house at the end of the pavement will point me the right way.



I saw this covered bridge at the EDGE of the park near Larsen Ranch. I loved the dappled light and the shadows made by the descending sun. Do you see the shadows? Delicate curved lines mirroring their metal pretty. I walked closer, looking to see a way into the other side...


I was thinking about those people walking from this side of the park (see yesterday's picture). Strange, because the gate is LOCKED. Where in the world did they come from??


A little pocket of Peacefulness

I rediscovered the Red Barn at Larsen Ranch last week.

I took some time to stroll around the park and it was time well spent - very lovely.
I remembered the last time I was here. My daughter must have been 9 or 10...There are blackberry bushes everywhere. She decided to pick one and pop it in her mouth before I knew what was happening. That night, she started to puff up and the next morning, she looked like a balloon. Off to the doctor - a lesson learned that you don't just pluck the yummiest thing you see and put it in your mouth! I guess I understand though - blackberries taste great fresh off the vine!

Looking for Color

I do this at the beginning of every Autumn. I drive around looking for color - the bright oranges, the deep reds, the flashy yellows - all screaming "It's Fall! Take a picture of me on this tree!" As I drive around, I think, "Surely, the trees know that Fall is here. Therefore, they are going to turn their leaves into the pretty colors I expect this time of year." And every year, I am too early. The trees do not have their Fall wardrobe on. They are still wearing their summer green. I feel impatient.

I visited Apple Hill last week. It finally started to feel like Autumn. The air was crisp up there, and I could see the hints of color that will come.

Soon, I think...

Summer revisited

I am not a "Wedding Photographer", except when I am hired to do the occasional wedding shoot for one of my friends, so my business is really slow in the summer. This actually works out for me, because then I get to plan my weeks around friends, my kids and where they want to go (or not), and I can visit State Parks, which is one of my favorite things to do.
This past summer, I got to take pictures of my friend and her lovely family. She had her baby last December and between her other two boys and other mommy stuff, she did not have the time to get his picture taken! I was very happy to take pictures of them and their littlest guy. I chose a great park for their session, really close to our children's school. Nice backdrops in the summertime and things to keep her 2 older boys occupied - like HUGE boulders to climb on and a play structure - so I could take pictures of their cute baby brother.

It's supposed to be fun

I don't know about you, but I really like outtakes. You know, the scenes that don't make it into the final cut of the movie, or in my case, the shots that don't make it into my clients' final galleries. Sometimes it's because there is too much blur or eyes are closed or only one person is smiling, or not smiling, whichever the case may be. In other situations, though, shots don't make it in the gallery because it was a really good shoot, and I have to prune down the selections so my client doesn't get overwhelmed.

Here are some of my favorite outtakes from a recent session. Just kids, having fun, giggling and moving around. Some unfocused but that's the charm. My son says that he didn't like the first one because you can't see the other twin. My answer, "Son, that's their fun showing!"







Folsom Renaissance Faire 2015

My family and I went to the Renaissance Fair a few weekends ago. I love these events - the costumes, the decor, the jewelry, the crystals, the hair, the metal apparel, even the food. The only thing missing was my own Renaissance cloak and dress. Perhaps next year?

Jousting is not for the faint of heart...


Wares for sale!
You could even get your hair braided like a noble woman - for a small fee of course...
Haggis was served, of course...


Period costumes galore!





Her Majesty and her Court




Musicians, Dancers, and Psychics


Hunting the old fashioned way


Who can forget the birds of prey?



Games for all!


And of course, the entertainment on the Queen's Stage

















All of the above

October 10, 2014

Today I had my first photography showcase.
Thought I was prepared; I wasn't
Thought I would leave the house by 12:30. I didn't
Wondered if I would find parking. I did. Then the meter ate my money.
Since the meters took credit cards, I thought I was prepared. They didn't work

Lost my ID and my bank card. Didn't know it
Until 4 women yelled out my name (while I was going to add money to my parking ticket)
"Are you Claire Toney?"
I thought, "Hmmm, Yes, I am. Do I know you?"
"You dropped this" and they handed me my driver's license and my bank card
Reminded me that there are good, honest people in the world after all. And I felt relieved. For a moment. Until I realized I was still parked illegally.

Was given a secret parking spot
Shhhh I can't tell where
Finally finished attaching my background to the metal fence panel.
Discovered that I had the wrong size S hooks
Sad and wanted to cry
But I didn't
and drove to Home Depot and bought $50 worth of bigger S hooks. Just in case. And I made sure to keep the receipts. Because God knows that I won't use all of those damn S hooks.

Returned to the venue and my friend was there to help me set up. Hugged the coordinator's assistant who told me where Home Depot was
We finished hanging my photographs
Finished my booth,

Ate food.

Got my picture taken
Got a video made, of me (!)

Got dressed.
Met some people - Ryan, Martin (who is my brother's twin - no joke and boy do we have stories to tell), a few other photographers, and a really nice couple who had a tattoo booth. Time was up so I didn't get his name - drat

Took more selfies and Instagram pics

My hair dresser was the first I saw (I <3 her)
Them more and more and more people came.
Hugged them all

My creative consultant came and changed the way I looked at my portraits forever.
I know now where I need to go. Funny how life takes you places and leads you to people that change your life forever.

Saw lots more people, scheduled appointments (yay!), hugged everyone that I recognized.
Love of my life came and I think he actually had a good time. He is more social than I give him credit for =)

Band played, dancers danced (fabulously, I might add), rappers rapped, singers sang.

Things died down, started breaking down, lights turned off, background pulled down, boxes refilled
Walked (fast!) to my car, brought it around to the front of the club. Insisted that I drive my friend and love of my life to their cars - are you kidding? it's dark out there and it's downtown
Loaded the car, checked my space. All clear.

Drove my friend to her car (a couple blocks away!) and the love of my life to his car. Drove home.

Kids still awake with my friend who was watching them. Talked a bit. Made a promise to schedule a playdate (I <3 her too, and her kids)

Took a shower and now relaxed.

How was my day? All of the above.