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Back to School: Six Tips to Taking Your Kids School Photos August 27, 2010

Photo by Divine Caroline There’s a Web site called Awkward Family Photos that I think it’s hilarious! As the name clearly mentions, it’s a website that’s all about showing some extremely awkward family photographs, whether the awkwardness stems from families wearing scary matching outfits, posing in cheesy or odd positions, or includes some obvious (and awkward) digital bloopers.

I love this Web site, and I can definitely relate, especially when I think back to some of my old middle and high school photos. In my experience, it seemed as though the entire “Picture Day” process always ended up being an enormous disaster!

I remember, what seems like so long ago, standing in a ridiculously huge line, outside in the summer heat waiting to get inside the auditorium (yeah … pretty much any makeup I had on had melted away, and my hair had gone flat too), only to finally reach the camera, and only get one shot to get a picture-perfect smile for that year’s school photo.

“Tilt your head, hunny. Lift your chin. Smile big, hold it … hold it … one, two … ” Snap!

Frantically, I’d say, “Wait! I think I closed my eyes. Maybe we can try it again?”

But it was always the same response, “No, hunny. You looked fine. …NEXT!!!”

Of course, you had to buy the picture packages in advance, before ever seeing the final photo … I’d beg my mom to get the largest package (who knows, maybe this was my year?), and she’d talk me down to something much smaller. Each photo practically cost several dollars each, and it was incredibly expensive to buy any of these pictures at all!

And, like every year before it, when the photos had been developed and finally arrived, I was always absolutely horrified by the results. Whether I was giving a half smile or the fact that you could see every single blemish on my face, I always hated my school pictures. I wasn’t the only one either. I kid you not, there was always some poor child who happily picked up their photo package only to realize that their one and only shot for the yearbook had caught them with their eyes closed. Now, that was awful. I would always wonder if these unfortunate kids with closed eyed pics also asked for a second shot, just to be told, “No, hunny. You looked great.” Liar.

With today’s high-end digital cameras, I doubt that school photos are ever taken and printed with closed eyes, but these school photo packages are never really ideal for many reasons: They’re usually very expensive, you only get one or two chances for taking your photo (instead of taking the time to take the best shot possible), and the photos are never edited (and show every last pimple, blemish, etc). So, why do we keep investing in these overpriced pics?

I say, don’t! This year, don’t buy the unnecessary school photos, or at the very least, just buy less! Instead, take your own school photos—photos that your child will be proud to hand out to their friends. It’s not very difficult to take good pics, just follow the six school photo tips below and your child may be very pleased with the results—and not traumatized—like I was!

1. All About Hair, Makeup, and Clothes. Visit the Awkward Family Photos Web site I mentioned and you will get a very good idea as to why hair, makeup, and clothing is so very important. Your best bet is to choose items or products that won’t lock your child into an era. Try to go for pretty, classic hairstyles, and always make makeup look natural. If your child is young, they obviously won’t need any makeup, but if you have an older daughter, keep in mind that for photos, you typically have to apply more than you would wear on a regular day (to cover blemishes), but you always want the skin and makeup to appear pretty, simple, and natural-looking.

Same for clothing. Always go simple and classic. Avoid white in photographs, and choose long sleeves and three-quarter sleeve shirts or cardigans which look better in photos that short sleeves or tank tops. For example, a solid colored, clean-looking blouse or a long sleeved collared shirt, with little in the way of stripes or design, is a great option.

2. Be Choosy About Backgrounds. Of course you want these school photos to be as professional looking as possible, so be extra cautious of busy backgrounds! Even if the background is pretty, filled with things like plants and greenery, you want this to look like a school photo, so stay indoors, and find a solid background. You may even want to use a pretty patterned drape or curtain and use it as a backdrop. Hang it on the window or attach it to a wall, and use it to create a traditional looking school photo background.

3. Set Camera Settings for High Resolution. Make sure that your camera is set to the highest resolution picture-taking settings as possible. You want the best, clearest photos to come out of this project, and while you can always lower the resolution and file size within photo editing software, you want to work with the highest resolution possible first.

4. Try a Super Shutter Camera. Investing in a digital camera with a super-fast shutter is absolutely worth the big price. Ever wonder why so many photos end up blurry? It’s typically because we click on the button to take a picture, expect the photo be shot, and our subjects move (even if it’s ever-so-slightly) or we move our camera (thinking the picture is finished). The picture actually then takes (obviously delayed, and taking it’s sweet time), and the result is blurred photos. Save your beautiful portrait shots and create “more-photogenic” school photos by either using a faster-shutter digital camera, or taking your time with a slower-shutter camera. Your child needs to stay completely still for three seconds after clicking the camera button—and same goes for you, the photographer. Three seconds may seem like a lifetime, but you can do it, and it’s more than worth it!

BONUS TIP: When taking your school photos, try using the “Portrait Mode” setting on your camera.

Airbrushing 5. Edit the School Photos. No matter how you much you use the tools on your camera, adjust the lighting, and try to perfectly frame a shot, it’s not uncommon to take digital photos and still feel disappointed by the results … no matter how talented you are! Digital photos often times have flaws. But what’s great is that you can digitally fix them easily with Photo Editing software! Simple edits in Photoshop or Photoshop Elements can enhance your photos and restore them to the way you intended them to look!

Oh, and remember how awkward school photos can be? They don’t have to be unfortunate anymore, thanks to the wonders of photo editing! Remove distracting pimples and blemishes from young adult skin—even airbrush skin for an ultra-professional-looking photo! You may even want to remove a few wrinkles and perhaps even try digi-tanning! See Digital Scrapbooks and More’s ridiculously inexpensive Digi Makeovers (most are only $1.99 and don’t worry about software- you can get a free trial of Photoshop Elements from the Adobe website!) for super-easy tutorials on easy ways to edit your pics. Why not give it a try? These are important photos!

-Glamour & Green Gluten-Free

 

Finally! Fantastic Gluten-Free Bread August 25, 2010

Filed under: Gluten-Free Products — glamourandgreenglutenfree @ 3:18 pm
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Udi's Gluten-Free Bread I went to Whole Foods the other day in order to pick up some gluten free bread. Now, I hardly ever get gluten free bread. I mean, lets be honest here, gluten-free bread is pretty much gross. Unless I toast it, it’s usually not something I enjoy. And that’s what I set out to do- toast some gluten-free bread, make some GF bread crumbs, and make some homemade GF meatballs for our spaghetti dinner that night.

Anyway, while I was in the gluten-free bread section, a guy watched me as I looked for my typical GF bread brand. He said, “Hey, if you’re looking for gluten-free bread, you should really try Udi’s. It seriously tastes like regular bread.”

I was skeptical, but I still bough a bag of Udi’s Whole Grain Bread Loaf… and let me just tell you: IT’S AWESOME!!!

This bread is good stuff. What a relief to find a brand of gluten-free bread that you don’t even have to toast in order to be edible. This bread is gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free, and nut-free… and it still tastes incredible. It’s almost too good to be true… almost. 🙂

Finally gluten-free bread that just tastes like BREAD. …It’s about time!

 

If you miss sandwiches, like I did, then grab a loaf of Udi’s & enjoy any & all things that require a slice of bread once again.

Learn more about Udi’s below:

The History of Udi’s Gluten Free Foods

Several years ago, Udi’s Certified Master Baker, Chadwick White was asked by a friend with celiac disease to create good-tasting gluten-free bread. Unimpressed with what was on the market, White was determined to create superior gluten-free bread solely for Udi’s.
Inspired, White and his team of skilled bakers used their craft, applied artisan baking techniques and ultimately created the secret recipe for Udi’s Gluten Free Foods.
With freshly baked loaves in hand, they presented the soft and moist gluten-free bread to Udi and business partners. Upon first bite, the team was convinced White had successfully combined the perfect ingredients for what is now known as our signature white sandwich bread.
Soon after, the team reached out to a local celiac chapter and invited members to sample the freshly baked gluten-free bread. Words cannot describe the positive reactions achieve that day – people jumped for joy while others were moved to tears.
Thanks to that celiac meeting and the outpouring support and demand from the local gluten-free community, King Soopers in Denver and Whole Foods Rocky Mountain Division put Udi’s Gluten Free Foods on their shelves. Currently, Udi’s Gluten Free is in more than 500 stores nationwide, in 36 states, including Hawaii.
It’s amazing to hear the stories and impact Udi’s Gluten Free has had on the lives of people across the country. We invite you to sit down, savor and enjoy delicious baked goods again. No need to worry, we’ll bake more.

-Glamour & Green Gluten-Free

Still here? ..What are you waiting for? Grab some Udi’s and make a sandwich! I’m sure it’s been a while since you’ve done that!

 

Gluten-Free Caramel Apple Cheesecake August 19, 2010

 

Here is a decadent caramel apple cheesecake recipe from Paula Dean that I have modified below to be gluten-free. It is sure to impress if you have guests over or want to bring something yummy to a neighborhood get-together. No one will suspect that a dessert this tasty could ever be gluten-free.

 
Enjoy!

Ingredients

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Reserve 3/4 cup of the apple filling; set aside. Spoon the remaining filling into the crust. Beat together the cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla until smooth. Add the eggs and mix well. Pour this over the pie filling.

Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the center of the cake is set. Cool to room temperature.

Mix the reserved pie filling and caramel topping in a small saucepan and heat for about 1 minute, or until spreadable. Spoon the apple-caramel mixture over the top of the cheesecake and spread evenly. Decorate the edge of the cake with pecan halves and sprinkle with chopped pecans. Refrigerate the cake until ready to serve.

 

3 Ingredient Gluten-Free Pie Crust August 18, 2010

gluten-free_pie_crust_thumb I found a recipe for cheesecake that sounded soooo good the other day. I thought I could modify it to be gluten free… that is until I got stuck when it came to making the cheesecake crust. Store-bought and gramcracker crusts are obviously out of the question.

But as fate would have it, I stumbled upon Sarah Lukemire’s 3 Ingredient Gluten-Free Pie Crust Recipe from Celiac.com …and problem solved! With only three ingredients (now that’s my kind of recipe!!), there’s no way you can go wrong! 

And check back for my modified GF cheesecake recipe tomorrow. Yay!

  • 1 1/4 Cup almond meal (or very finely ground almonds, unblanched)
  • 1/3 Cup butter 
  • 3 Tablespoons sugar  
  • *Use organic ingredients whenever possible to make a yummier, better-for-you version of this recipe

  • Directions:
    Preheat oven to 350F.
  • Melt butter and combine with almond meal and sugar, mix well until all butter is absorbed.

    Spread into an 8″ round pie pan, pushing into corners and on edges.

    Bake for 10 minutes or until slightly browned.

  •  
  • -Glamour & Green Gluten-Free

    Ps. Keep this recipe on hand for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and other holidays when pumpkin, cherry, or apple pie is a must-have!

     

    Gluten-Free Mini Pineapple Cakes August 17, 2010

     

    House Number 0065175F1 I love having tea parties. I am obsessed with gourmet teas, Victorian teaware, and yummy desserts (gluten-free, of course). I love getting a few of my best girlfriends together for afternoon tea at my house to talk, drink, and eat… It’s the best!

    I found a fabulous recipe for Pineapple Mini Cakes by Giada De Laurentiis and I have translated below to be gluten-free. It would make an excellent & adorable dessert to serve alongside your favorite tea the next time you want to invite your best friends over for tea time. Enjoy!

    Ingredients
    • 1 (3 1/2-pound) pineapple, peeled, cored and cut into 1-inch pieces* see Cook’s Note
    • 2 tablespoons pineapple juice plus 2/3 cup
    • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
    • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
    • 3 egg whites
    • 2/3 cup water
    • 2/3 cup vegetable oil
    • 1 1/2 teaspoons almond extract
    • 1 (18.25-ounce) box gluten free white cake mix

    *Use organic ingredients whenever possible for a yummier, better-for-you version of this recipe. 🙂

    • Special Equipment: 6-cup mini Bundt pan

    Directions

    Place an oven rack in the lower 1/3 of the oven. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Butter and flour a mini Bundt pan (use all-purpose gluten-free flour to dust your pan).

    For the Cakes: Place the pineapple in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until coarsely chopped. In a 10-inch nonstick skillet, combine the chopped pineapple, 2 tablespoons pineapple juice, sugar, and butter over medium-high heat. Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring occasionally. Cook until the liquid evaporates and the mixture begins to brown, about 10 to 15 minutes. Spoon the pineapple mixture into the prepared pan.

    In a large mixing bowl, combine the egg whites, water, vegetable oil, almond extract, GF cake mix, and 2/3 cup pineapple juice. Using an electric hand mixer, beat the mixture on medium speed for 2 minutes. Pour the batter over the cooked pineapple. Bake for 28 to 30 minutes until the cakes begin to pull away from the sides of the pan and the tops are golden. Allow the cakes to cool for 15 minutes. Place a piece of parchment paper on top of the cakes. Put a baking sheet, upside-down, on top of the parchment paper. Flip both pans over and allow the cakes to cool completely while still in the Bundt pan, about 1 hour. Unmold the cakes and place on individual serving plates.

    Cook’s Note: This recipe will also work using 1 (20-ounce) can crushed pineapple in 100 percent pineapple juice, drained and juice reserved.

    -Glamour & Green Gluten-Free

     

    Gluten-Free Pork Chops with Peach Barbecue Sauce August 13, 2010

    Pork Chops with Peach BBQ Sauce_Photo by Eating Well Try this yummy gluten-free recipe from Eating Well.com the next time you are in the mood for pork!
    Ingredients
    • 1/4 cup plus 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
    • 1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
    • 2 cups boiling water
    • 3 cups ice cubes
    • 4 bone-in, center-cut pork chops, 1/2-3/4 inch thick (1 3/4-2 pounds), trimmed
    • 2 ripe but firm peaches, pitted and quartered, or 3 cups frozen sliced peaches
    • 1 medium tomato, quartered and seeded
    • 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
    • 1 tablespoon canola oil
    • 1/2 cup chopped onion, preferably Vidalia
    • 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh ginger
    • 2 tablespoons honey
    • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper, plus more to taste
    *Use organic ingredients whenever possible for a yummier, better-for-you version of this dish!
    Preparation
    1. Place 1/4 cup salt and brown sugar in a medium heatproof bowl. Pour in boiling water and stir to dissolve. Add ice cubes and stir to cool. Add pork chops, cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or up to 4 hours.
    2. Puree peaches, tomato and vinegar in a food processor until smooth.
    3. About 30 minutes before you’re ready to cook the pork chops, heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, 5 to 7 minutes. Add ginger and cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the peach puree, the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, honey and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook until reduced by about half, 20 to 25 minutes. Reserve 1/4 cup of the sauce for basting the chops; keep the remaining sauce warm in the saucepan until ready to serve.
    4. Preheat grill to medium.
    5. Remove the pork chops from the brine (discard brine), rinse well, and thoroughly dry with paper towels. Season the chops with 1/4 teaspoon pepper and brush both sides with some of the reserved sauce.
    6. Grill the pork chops, turning once, until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center registers 145°F, 2 to 4 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate, tent with foil and let rest for 5 minutes. Serve with the warm peach barbecue sauce on the side.
    Tips & Notes
    • Make Ahead Tip: Brine the pork chops (Step 1) for up to 4 hours. Refrigerate the peach barbecue sauce (Step 3) for up to 5 days.

    -Glamour & Green Gluten-Free

     

    Ridiculously Delicious Gluten-Free BBQ Sauce: Daddy Sam’s August 10, 2010

    Daddy Sam's Gluten Free Sawces Now that my pregnancy is over and my beautiful baby boy is finally here, those long 9 months were an exciting, but challenging journey. The first half of my pregnancy, I didn’t seem to have many food cravings (I was so ridiculously sick, that pretty much nothing ever sounded good), but even though I was nauseous until my very last day of pregnancy, it seemed like I craved something new every day in my third trimester when I could handle food better. Here are some of the things I’ve craved:

    -Pizza with root beer & cream soda

    -Nachos with extra cheese sauce

    -Mint chocolate chip ice cream

    -Anything Banana (bananas with chocolate, mango sorbet with bananas, chunky monkey- banana- ice cream)

    -Fresh Oranges

    -Celery with peanut butter and raisins (this was the weirdest craving for me, as it reminded me of snacks provided in kindergarten? haha)

    -BBQ sauce

    Things I used to LOVE but couldn’t eat while pregnant:

    -Too much Garlic

    -Eggs

    -Indian & Thai curry

    -Orange Juice (actual oranges were fine, but the juice would always make me sick)

    Weird, huh? At least I never craved dirt, or paint chips… Yikes! One of my friends told me that her cousin craved ice cream with sauerkraut on top. That’s so nasty to me- pregnant or not.

    Since most of my cravings were not unusual foods, I had no trouble getting them when I needed them. The only one I seemed to struggle with was the BBQ sauce. Obviously, BBQ sauce is not a rarity, but a gluten-free version? That was a challenge. I went to my local grocery store and must have spent 45 minutes reading every single bottle’s label. Even the more upscale and expensive brands seemed to have wheat or gluten in them! And even if the bottle didn’t mention possible allergens, many of the ingredients looked suspicious.

    That’s why I was so relieved when I discovered Daddy Sam’s All Natural Bar-B-Que Sawce. This “sawce” is AWESOME- not only is it gluten-free (which would have sold me right there), but there’s no artificial preservatives, no artificial flavors, no artificial thickeners, no corn starch, no MSG, no dairy, no tree nuts, no peanuts, no high fructose corn syrup, no fat, no cholesterol,  no soy… yeah. It’s pretty much PERFECT. 🙂

    The Daddy Sam’s Story is so cool too:

    Daddy Sam Oglesby wanted to be a cowboy. In 1883, when he was 16, he rode a stagecoach from Virginia to West Texas. He went third class and had to ride on top.

    His hat blew off one night while he was sleeping. He got off the stagecoach in Mertzon, Texas to buy a new one. With his last five dollars he bought a cowboy hat from a 14 year old girl at the General store. Two years later they eloped-against her father’s strong and reasonable objections!

    He mortgaged his horse to pay for the train tickets to San Angelo Texas. At the courthouse, they interrupted a trial and asked the judge to marry them. The judge stopped the trial and the jury served as witnesses. Then they went home to face the music.

    They were married for over 50 years and raised eight children on a ranch with no running water or electricity. Everyone called him Daddy Sam.

    Daddy Sam’s Bar-B-Que Sawce was born on his ranch in West Texas. The Oglesby family had a lot of Family picnics and made a lot of Barbeque. Carefully nurtured through the generations, this great sawce is now available to you. We hope you like it.

    This sawce story makes me all the more attached to this fabulous GF sawce. I feel like it came from the wild west. Like a cowboy made it for me. Haha. 🙂

    And Daddy Sam’s Bar-B-Que Sawce is sooooo good- I’d recommend it to anyone. Gluten-free eaters or not. The Daddy Sam’s Original Bar-B-Que flavor is unbelievably tasty- perfectly sweet & salty with the right amount of tang. It’s $5.50 for a 19 oz jar and the Daddy Sam’s philosophy is: “Good Goods are Never Cheap. Cheap Goods are Never Good.” I couldn’t agree more. This sawce is GOOD and worth every cent.

    And they don’t stop at their original sawce flavor. They also offer a Ginger Jalapeño Bar-B-Que (for those that want a little more heat!) and Salmon Glaze flavor. Both fantastic and both gluten-free!!! If you need a gift for a special someone that loves to grill (or just a hungry pregnant lady with hardcore cravings for BBQ sauce), Daddy Sam’s even offers a gift set with all three flavors for $17.95. You can even include some of the recipe ideas they offer on their website using their sawces… Brilliant!

    Try Daddy Sam’s ( buy at: www.DaddySams.com ) and use one or all of these delicious gluten-free sawce flavors the next time you decide to use the grill!

    -Glamour & Green Gluten-Free