Home for the Holidays! / Montana portrait photographer

My husband and I always have a difficult time working out vacation time together.  He works in TV news Monday – Friday and I work a lot of evenings and weekends.  Our schedules and slow seasons don’t ever seem to coincide but once a year we always seem to find a few days to get away.  Recently he actually got a number of days off in a row and we decided to plan a trip to Montana.  We could visit my parents as well as see my brother and sister. 
Since Montana weather is so unpredictable, I had decided not to mention our potential plans to my parents.  I didn’t want to get their hopes up and then crush them if the weather turned bad.   The only person in the family who knew of our intentions was my brother.  After one canceled trip we weren’t even sure the trip would be possible.  At this point we decided if we did get the chance to drive up the following weekend we should surprise my parents.  It would be an early and very unexpected Christmas gift.
The following weekend came, the weather was good and we set out on our 12+ hour journey to my hometown.  I drove like the wind, which is not unusual for me at all…….I grew up during the days when the speed limit in Montana was “reasonable and prudent”.  The plan my brother and I had worked out was this.  He would show up at my parents house about 30 minutes before I was to pull into town.  He needed to keep them from going to bed and then my husband and I would ring the doorbell.

At 9:50 I rang the doorbell, heard a little commotion in the house and then my Dad opened the door.  “SURPRISE!”   His look was of shear confusion but happiness all rolled into one.  Mom after realizing it was us and not a high school prankster was almost jumping for joy.

In the end the surprise was a success and it was so wonderful seeing all of my family once again.
Happy Holidays everyone!
My Mom & Dad
I’m so proud of my parents!  
At the time this photo was taken my Mom had just lost 31 pounds and my father had just lost 42 pounds.   Since then, both have continued to drop in numbers and are still working on reaching their goal weight.   
Yahoo Mom & Dad!
My sister and her family
Litte Miss Shelby
(She’s now 2 years old)

Apple Pie Filling / Boise Photographer

Winter always slows down a bit in the portrait business and that leaves me with a little time on my hands to take care of projects around the house.  This year I canned apple pie filling for the very fist time.  If I hadn’t been give a large bag of apples a few weeks ago I probably would not have gone out of my way to do so.  I didn’t want to see the apples go to waste so I got on the internet and started searching for recipes.  After a little looking I came across a recipe that is quit tasty.

Canned Apple Pie filling with vanilla and buttershots
– 4 cups sugar
– 1 cup cornstarch
-1 tbs. cinaman
– 1 or 2 vanilla beans (split & scraped)
 – 9 cups water
– 1 cup Butterscotch Snapps
– 1/4 cup bottled lemon juice
– 1 tsp. lemon zest 
– 9 lbs. apples (peeled, cored & sliced)
Optional Ingredients
 – 3 cloves
– 1/2 tsp. cardamon
– 1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg 

1)  Peel, core & slice the apples. 
Next year I’m buying one of those contraptions that cores & peels the apple at the same time (like the one pictured below).  
Using the hand peeler was so teadus.  I’ll never do it this way again.

I like to place apples either the sink or a large container full of water & fruit fresh.  This should be done immmediatly after slicing to keep the apples from browning.

2) In large pot place first 5 ingredients and optional spices.  
When using Vanilla bean you have to scrape the inside of the vanilla bean.  
Don’t add the entire vanilla bean.

3)  Bring to a boil and cook until thick and bubbly.   
Stir from time to time, making sure the mixture does not stick to the bottom of the pot. 

Once the mixture is thick and bubbly remove from heat.  Add lemon juice, lemon zest and butterscotch schnapps.
4) Sanitize canning jars.
I don’t have a dishwasher so I have to place the jars in boiling water for about 10 minutes.
5)  Pack Jars with apples and top with liquid mixture.
Make sure to leave about 1/2″ to 1″ head space at the top of the jar.
6)  Process jars in hot water bath for 25 minutes. 

7) Remove from water bath and let cool.
You now have lots of apple pie filling at your fingertips.  At a moments notice you have prepared apples ready for use in pies, as an ice cream topping or any other baked good you can think of.