Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Kicking the Sugar Habit: How to Do it and Why You Should

Candy is not forbidden in my house as you can see,
but this is a full bowl of Halloween candy and it is December.

I know, this is a forbidden topic this time of year. I mean, look at my last two posts; both are desserts, but hear me out.

Sugar is not the devil of all devils. It is not even all that bad. Humans crave sweet things because they give us the most instant energy of anything around. The problem is over consumption of sugar. This over consumption of sugar has led to epidemic diseases and a highly overweight population.

Many overweight people are addicted to sugar. What does it mean to be addicted to sugar? Everything you want to eat is sweet or starchy. You feel like you are constantly on an energy roller coaster. You want to eat all the time. You are tired. You are constantly being driven by, what is most likely, a candida yeast infection.

Candida is a yeast that lives quietly inside a healthy gut. When a person has taken steroids, antibiotics, birth control, smoked, regularly consumed alcohol, consumed large amounts of sugar and simple carbohydrates, the gut becomes unhealthy and the candida yeast grows at a rapid pace. It is when the yeast has begun to overtake the gut, that symptoms such as constant sugar craving, headaches, loss of concentration, bloat, yeast infections in other parts of the body, disrupted sleep and improper bowl function occur. In order to eliminate these symptoms, a person must starve the yeast by removing the food source: sugar.

A sugar fast is the "simplest" way to do this. A sugar fast is not simple when you are used to eating sugar and carbs all the time. If you find yourself constantly craving sugar, try this fast for at least 2 weeks. I have seen some articles talk about 21 days and other say 40. I removed sugar and yeast from my diet for two weeks years ago when I was trying to fix a yeast issue. Not only did this fix the issue, I lost somewhere between 5 and 10 pounds in the process and lost my taste for anything too sweet. Not only did I not want to consume things like candy and soda anymore, I didn't enjoy it when I did eat them. That is not to say I don't enjoy a cookie or chocolate truffle every once in a while, but they are treats, lower in sugar and enjoyed, not just consumed.

Disclaimer: I am NOT a dietitian, a medical professional, or even someone who plays one on TV. I am just a person who has strived to live a healthier life and wanted to share my experience with others. If you choose to follow the information in this article, it is on your own accord. Seriously, I do not hold any degree or training.

The following foods should be completely avoided:

Sugar - refined or natural, honey, alcohol, processed, artificial, etc. Anything with the suffix -ose is sugar.

Wheat - Starch turns to sugar in the body

Caffeine - prompts the liver to dump large doses of sugar into the blood stream*

Some Dairy - dairy contains lactose which is a natural sugar but exceptions can be made for small amounts of butter, live yogurt, and cottage cheese. Hard cheese in small amounts are also okay because the harder the cheese the less lactose it contains. Consume cheese like a specialty item; eat the best you can afford. Avoid milk, ice cream, non-live yogurt and soft cheeses like cream cheese

Things you shouldn't be eating anyway:

Preservatives and additives - this is not including natural preservatives like vitamin E, etc. but those man-made chemicals that only stress your body

Overly refined and processed foods - if you can make it at home, do. If you can buy it from the producer, that is second best. Avoid pre-made foods, anything that says artificial, canned meats, and cheese-food.

Now, there is a lot of information out there saying that consuming yeast or fungi will aggravate a yeast infection, and I believed this for a long time, until I was curious why. Just like eating cholesterol does not place the substance around your heart, eating the type of yeast in food is not going to contribute to the yeast in your gut**. There are instances where a person's yeast issues are so extreme, the body creates an allergy to yeast and therefore inflammation***. If eating foods with yeast or fungi make you feel ill, stop eating them at least until you have cleared the bad yeast from your system.

So, what can you eat?

Protein rich foods like lean meat, fish, eggs and some cheeses along with some nuts.

Non-starchy Vegetables like greens, onions, garlic, tomatoes, cucumbers, avocados, peppers, cauliflower, zucchini, green beans, etc.

Whole Grains such as Quinoa, Kamut or Amaranth

What else can you eat (if you have to)?

Starchy vegetables like potatoes, yams, corn, winter squash and beans should be limited along with sweet vegetables like carrots.

Whole Grains like Oats and brown rice.

Beans and Legumes

Whole Fruit: Avoid high sugar fruits like bananas and dried fruits. Apples, pears and melons are okay while berries have the least amount of sugar.

Is there anything that will ease the cravings?****

B Vitamins

Vitamin C


Trace Minerals

L-Glutamine - Help reduce sugar cravings

Chromium - balances insulin levels in the blood.

The stricter you are with your food intake the better your results will be. Please remember that you still need to eat and be eating 5 to 6 small meals a day. Don't beat yourself up if you slip; stress is also not good for the body. If you need something sweet, eat half an apple, two or three dried apricot halves or a handful of berries. Try to power through; it is just the yeast being hungry, not you.


Thanks for reading,

Sarah McTernen


* http://www.holistichelp.net/candida-diet.html

** http://www.nutritionresearchcenter.org/healthnews/eating-yeast-doesnt-cause-yeast-infections/

*** http://drmyhill.co.uk/wiki/Yeast_problems_and_candida

**** Linda Page's Healthy Healing 11th Edition - 2001 - Linda Page

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Sweet Potato Cake

This recipe started with a search for baked sweet potato donuts.  Of course, you know me, the more of a process the less likely I am actually going to do it.  So, I decided to make it into a cake instead of baked cake donuts (I don’t have a deep fryer or vegetable oil in the house.)  These could also make excellent pancakes or waffles.

3 ½ cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
¼ cup butter
¾ cup brown sugar
2 large eggs
½ cup buttermilk
½ cup sour cream
1 teaspoon Vanilla
1 1/2 cups cooked sweet potato (I used leftover mashed marsala sweet potatoes from Thanksgiving.)
Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Grease and line a 9” cake pan with parchment paper. Don’t forget to also grease the parchment paper.
Cream together the butter and sugar in a big bowl or your stand mixer.  Add each egg individually until incorporated.  Mix in the buttermilk, sour cream, vanilla and sweet potato.  In a separate bowl, mix together all the dry ingredients.  Add the dry ingredients to the wet mixture in three installments.  Mix until combined.
Pour the batter into your prepared cake pan.  Use a spatula to get as much out of the bowl as possible; it will be very thick.
Bake in a 350 degree oven for 35 minutes. 
Melt 2 tablespoons of butter and mix together a tablespoon of sugar and a teaspoon of cinnamon.
Remove the cake from the oven without turning off the heat.  Brush the top of the cake with butter and sprinkle with the cinnamon sugar.  Return to oven for 5 minutes.  Remove from oven and brush again with butter and sprinkle with remaining cinnamon sugar.  Let the cake cool 10 – 15 minutes before depanning.  Serve with left over cranberry sauce.
Thanks for reading,
Sarah McTernen

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

From Vine to Pumpkin Pie

This is not my first venture into making pumpkin pie...it is just the first time I am trying to document it.  I've made pumpkin pie with the stuff in a can and the stuff from a farm, but this year I am making it with stuff from my garden!   Anyway, I have cooked my orange lovelies and pureed them, and drained them (which no one ever seems to talk about when using fresh pumpkin, but it really does need to be wrung out a bit in my opinion).  Now it is time to figure out how I am going to make it into pie tomorrow.  I have been looking through recipes and picking and choosing the information that I need.  I do not use evaporated milk and I hate having egg whites left over.  You can try to tell me how much spice to use, but I know I am going to do that my sight/taste and I know I am going to use cinnamon, cardamon, ginger, mace, allspice and cloves.  I am also going to use as little sugar as I can get away with...it is just how I am.  So here is what it is going to look like.

2 cups pumpkin puree
1/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon flour (its for stability but if you are not keen on flour you could always leave it out)
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 eggs
1 1/4 cup half n half
Spices to taste (options:  cinnamon, ginger, cardamon, mace, allspice, cloves, black pepper)

All of this is going to be mixed up tonight and left in the refrigerator to meld. 

Tomorrow I am going to make ginger cookies and use them as the basis for a crumb crust (1 1/2 to 2 cups crumbs, 1/4 -1/2  cup butter and probably 1/4 cup crushed pecans pressed into a 9 inch pie plate).

I'm lazy haven't mastered pie crusts.  Mostly because I keep trying to make whole wheat ones and it never tastes like I want it to.

I will also make fresh whipped cream for Thanksgiving (whipping cream, pinch of salt, dash of vanilla)

I'll let you know how it turns out. 

What is your favorite Thanksgiving dessert?

Thanks for reading,

Sarah McTernen


Saturday, November 17, 2012

Cooking Magazine Clutter

I just finished going through a large stack of Cooking Light magazines.  I had them stacked up with all my cookbooks and figured it was about time to find the recipes I wanted to keep and get rid of the rest, because otherwise I was never going to get rid of them or cook any of the meals inside.  There were magazines from 2006 to 2011 in the stack.  As I was perusing the magazines, I realized two things:  One, my family doesn't have adventurous taste buds and some of the recipes I had marked oh so long ago will never be made because of that, and two, a lot of the recipes are the same thing revamped.  The problem is, food is food, and once you figure out how things go together, recipes are less necessary. 

I need to finish my cookbook, which is less about recipes and more about learning how to cook instinctually.  It started out as a big book of recipes with stories on where the recipes came from, and it still has that element to it, but I have started combining recipes and adding variations to show how knowing how to cook one dish can make a variety of meals with just a slight tweak of the ingredients.  I don't know, maybe it's been done, it's all been done (sorry song cue).

Well, I have set the stack of cooking magazines off to be recycled and now I have to go figure out what I need for Thanksgiving.

What unique dish do you serve for Thanksgiving?

Have a great Thanksgiving everyone!

Thanks for reading,

Sarah McTernen

Photographic Art

Art Jewelry


Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Intense Personalities

Have you ever picked up a non-fiction book, and while reading the introduction, you started to tear up because it hit home hard?

I was at the library yesterday, and while perusing the new books, ran across the title The ADD Myth by Martha Burge.  Now, I have had my opinions that ADD is often misdiagnosed and if my daughter went to public school they would diagnose her right away, so the concept that there were errors in the field of ADD research didn't surprise me.  Something drew me to pick up the book.  I read the back cover that contained the words "normal" in quotation marks and I was compelled to check it out.

Knowing me, I figured I wouldn't get around to actually reading the silly book.  I often have high hopes of finding the allotted time to sit and read something I might find interesting, but this normally doesn't come to pass.  I then slump my shoulders and take the book back when it is due, still wondering what information it contains.  This happened recently with Buddha's Brain and I had waited three months on a waiting list.

Anyway, this morning I sat down to breakfast and picked up the book.  As I am reading the introduction, I am greeted by a series of characteristics and behaviors with which I am personally familiar.  These are traits with which I struggle.  I struggle with them, not because they are bad, but because they are not "normal". 

A few months ago, I posted about a site that talked about multipotentiality.  This concept was interesting to me, the not being able to stick to one passion, but a little too causey for my taste. After reading only the introduction of Martha Burge's book, an introduction that ends with it is okay not to read the book from start to finish and a little note that she provided summaries of each chapter at the end for those of us who are often bogged down by too many words (really I just want the protein), I saw a glimpse of understanding:  understanding myself, my kids, and my family.

The point?  I haven't read the whole book.  I was so intrigued by the first little bit of reading that I had to share right away.  If you find yourself feeling like you are on the outside looking in because you become easily obsessed by a task, you have intense emotions that visibly scare others or you take on the world's sorrows as your own, just the introduction to this book can open up your mind to a new way of thinking.

Thank you for reading,
Sarah McTernen


Monday, October 1, 2012

Starting Something New

I am not sure where this thought came from, so maybe it is divine inspiration, but I have decided to start donating 10% of my monthly sales to a charity.  I am going to rotate between charities, starting with The Fisher House http://www.fisherhouse.org/ for October.

Other charities that will be on the list

- Wounded Warriors
- International Hip Dysplasia Institute

Have a charity that you think I should look at? Post a comment here and I will check it out. 

Thanks for reading,

Sarah McTernen


Monday, August 27, 2012

Monday Morning Musing

Life lately has been full of conundrums that need to be figured out.  The problem with conundrums, is that they are comparable to a jewelry box full of fine chain that has been allowed to knot up; it is not going to be easy to untangle the whole mess.  I am sitting here musing, with my third cup of coffee, about this worlds tendency to obsess about health and to sacrifice living for the sake of health.  At the same time I am looking at networking invitations and wondering what the point is.  Yes, I realize to a sane person those two things are not connected, but my brain is way too busy to be sane.

Keep up, we are moving on, back to the networking thing...

I have met some great people at the networking events I have attended over the last 5 or 6 years.  I can count the amount of business I have gleaned from them on one hand.  I've handed out business cards and stumbled through the explanation of what I do, because my being an art photographer confounds a lot of people.  I have defended my small business and tried not to make excuses to why I can't go to this other networking thing, or work with this other group because I have three munchkins at home. I try not to bring up the fact that I have kids because then I get the look of, "Oh, you have young kids, why are you even here?"  or "Wow, I can't believe you're here?"  or "I want kids, but I'm too busy right now."  Then the conversation pretty much dies or turns into a discussion about munchkins.  It never seems like much networking to me, and the bigger the event, the more I am going to just be standing there not knowing what to do.

I am probably just going to the wrong events.  I need to be talking with interior designers not Realtors, boutique owners not financial consultants... 

As I am pausing to think about this, making plans for researching and calling people to set up meetings...

oh wait, I have kids. 

Deep breath. 

Sit back and wait. 

Maybe one day.

For now, I can manage to work at home, on my computer, because I do not have those kinds of kids who I can take with me to anywhere that requires them to sit nice and quiet.  I have kids who want to talk with everyone and who play and move and do what kids do. 

And there are three of them, which I know is not six or eleven, but it's enough. 

They poke and prod at each other until the other does something: giggles, snaps, yells, says something inappropriate. Oh yeah, and then there is the part where I have to discipline them in public because sometimes, their behavior is just not appropriate and, like dogs, if you tell them later on, they lack the reference point to fully understand what you are talking about. (Yes, I know I just compared my kids to dogs....it's not the first time).  I know there are people out there who do not appreciate the fact that I speak "harshly" to my children and not in some overly patient voice (I ran across some in a parking lot the other day).

My kids have personality and spunk, which means they are nowhere near those perfect kids who sit quietly with their hands folded and only speak when spoken to. My kids are also polite, mostly respectful (I say mostly because the 5 and 2 year old are still working on it and even the 9 year old sometimes forgets his manners) and intelligent munchkins.  They are munchkins though and the only reason why they are such polite and respectful children, is because they are taught to be.  I am sure there are ways to raise children without a harsh tone but I don't have the patience for that, beyond the fact that I have seen kids work the system.

Where am I going with this?  I don't know, just ranting I guess.  Maybe another mom who works at home will read this and realize that she is not alone.  Maybe a young woman who is wanting to start her own business and a family will see that no matter what society wants to tell girls, kids do change your life and make doing what you want to do, more challenging.  I just got up this morning with an urge to write/rant.

Thanks for reading,

Sarah McTernen
Photographic Artist and Jewelry Designer

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The Evolution of Cheesecake

How is it that I do not have a single picture of a cheesecake?

Since When Did Making a Cheesecake take Four Days?  It normally takes a good full day.  I mean, I always make them the day before so that they can chill in the refrigerator overnight.  This one, sheesh, is going to take four days, but I guess I have to blame the cheese.

I started making cheesecakes back in 2002/2003.  It started out as a refrigerator variety, because I didn't own any spring form pans.  I wanted to re-make the Jello ones that I had made when I was growing up.  Back then, most recipes for refrigerator cheesecake involve Cool Whip, gelatin, or sweetened condensed milk, non of which I use. This meant I had to make a new recipe. 

No Bake Cream Cheese Pie

1 3/4 cup crushed graham crackers
1/3 cup melted butter

16 oz cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup heavy cream, beaten until thick
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
(add 1/2 cup cocoa powder to make chocolate)
Mix together crumbs and melted butter and press evenly into a pie plate.
Beat heavy cream until very thick.
Blend together cream cheese, sugar, whipped cream and vanilla until smooth and fully incorporated.
Pour filling into pie crust and refrigerate for at least 3 hours.

The creation of successful execution of this recipe, started me down a path that has resulted in over twenty recipes for cheesecake ranging from vanilla to Chocolate Covered Strawberry Port Wine (I think that is the longest title I have in my collection).

Changes have occurred over the years.  For a long time I used Honey Maid graham crackers for the crust, but then I learned how to make graham crackers so I started making my own.  I make cookies before I make cheesecake if it is a cookie crumb crust.  I try to use as many ingredients as I can that have been processed as little as possible.  The one thing that I thought I would always buy was the cheese.  Then I started playing around with making cheese.

This is how a simple chocolate cheesecake for an 11 year old's birthday takes four days to make.  Today I made the chocolate cookies that will bee the base for this cheesecake.  I am also waiting for the light cream mixture to reach room temperature so that I can add the starter culture that will eventually change it into a big lump of curdley goodness (about 12 hours).  That will have to drain for an additional 12 hours.  Then the magical mixing and baking comes into play, followed by the cooling process which consists of about 4 hours in the oven and overnight in the refrigerator.  The next day it gets topped and served to our little gathering of family and friends.

Chocolate Cheesecake

1 3/4 cup chocolate cookie crumbs*
1/3 cup melted butter

24 ounces cream cheese
1  cup sugar
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup sour cream
1 cup whipped cream
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 tablespoons flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup cocoa powder

Heat oven to 325 F.

Mix together crumbs and melted butter.  Press into the bottom and up the sides of a 9-inch spring form pan. Bake crust for 15 minutes at 325F and then set aside to cool.

Blend together cream cheese and sugar. Add eggs one at a time, waiting to add the next one until the first is completely incorporated.  Add in the sour cream, whipped cream and vanilla extract.  Mix until well blended.  Add in the flour, salt, and cocoa powder.  Mix until combined and pour into cooled crust.

Put a broiler pan on the bottom rack of the oven and fill it 1/2 full with water.  Place cheesecake on top rack and bake at 325F for 10 minutes.  After 10 minutes, reduce the heat of the oven to 300 degrees and cook for approximately 1 hour. The cheesecake should still be a little jiggly in the middle.  Turn the oven off but leave the cheesecake on the top rack.  Prop the door open with a towel and let the cheesecake slowly cool.  Once it is room temperature, remove the cheesecake, cover and refrigerate for at least 3 hours.

*Chocolate Cookie Recipe
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt

Cream the butter and the sugar together then add the egg and vanilla.  Mix the flour cocoa powder baking powder and salt together and then add to butter mixture until combined.  Scoop tablespoon sized mounds onto parchment lined cookie sheets and bake in a 350 degree oven for about 10 minutes.  Remove the cookies from the oven and let cool. Makes about 20 cookies.

add 1/4 cup finely ground dark roast coffee and 1/4 cup rough chopped coffee beans along with 1/4 cup roughly chopped dark chocolate

Thanks for reading,

Sarah McTernen
Photographic Artist and Jewelry Designer

Monday, August 6, 2012

Proctor Arts Fest - Fun in the Sun

I am sitting here this very cloudy Monday morning, recovering from the very hot and sunny weekend that involved what is becoming my favorite Arts Fest of all time:  Proctor Arts Fest (www.proctorartsfest.com).  I have never walked the festival or seen much of the great entertainment that is provided, but I have had a booth there for two years in a row and it is always a busy day.  I love meeting people and sharing the stories of my jewelry and photography.  Thank you to everyone who stopped by to chat and shop.  You made the time go by so quickly.  I am looking forward to next year.

In the meantime, I am looking for some holiday shows to do.  If anyone has a suggestion for me to check out, leave a comment.

Thanks for reading,
Sarah McTernen

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The Start of a Journey

I believe in the body's innate ability to heal its self.
I believe in the wisdom and planning of nature.
I believe in an unfair life.

That last one may not be obvious, so let me explain. We are all born with limitations. Most of the time, these limitations are accepted because they are things we cannot change. I am short and because I am short there are things that I cannot do like crew a boat. Crewing a boat was something I had really wanted to do when I moved to Boston. I was informed, not very politely I might add, that I was too short to crew and the only position I could have would be coxswain. I wanted to row, not yell at people. Sometimes we are born with things that we cannot change. It is said to be unfair that we cannot accomplish everything our hearts desire. I think rejection is a major part of life and sometimes we need the opportunity to change our desires to find the experience we were truly looking to achieve. The things that we consider unfair are just opportunities to change, grow or prove the world wrong.

There are other kinds of limitations though. These are limitations that are perceived as fixable. The fix though, is not anything less than major surgery.

Here is the story. My 2 1/2 year old daughter was diagnosed with a dysplastic hip about six months ago. If you know nothing about hip dysplasia, it is a condition where the head of the femur does not sit properly in the socket of the hip. This is a little bit of an over simplification, but there are many different levels and varieties of this dysfunction. In most children, this is diagnosed at birth or at least before the age of 1 year. This was not caught by the doctors until I mentioned that she had a limp. That started us on this path of X-rays and visits to surgeons that has sent me on an emotional series of ups and downs that includes writing this article. The confirmed statement is that she has a fully dislocated hip and the surgeons say she needs surgery that involves cutting into her pelvis and her femur as well as the muscles and tendons supporting these bones followed by three months in a body cast, physical therapy, additional surgeries to remove hardware and that is it, as long as everything goes perfectly. Like the first statement says, I believe in the body's innate ability to heal its self. If I believe in this, then it is only logical for me to attempt to find another way to help reposition my daughter's leg.

Our first move was to talk with a chiropractor. He is adjusting her back and neck to keep them in line but did not have experience with adjusting a leg as out of alignment as hers. We were recommended to another chiropractor who has some experience with such dysfunctions. After meeting with this second chiropractor, he recommended we find a physical therapist. Off on the wild goose chase we go.  There is not the appropriate amount of research suggesting physical therapy as a treatment or method of adjustment for a child's dislocated hip so most physical therapists say they cannot help and we should have the surgery.  They inform me that any attempt to fix/alleviate this problem with physical therapy would be too tedious, long and involved for so young a child.  They of course follow these comments with a spiel on their own personal cause that I should worry about in addition to her dysplasia. 

That is where we sit at the moment; hoping that someone can fix her leg without opening her up.  I am writing this because I cannot be the only person who thinks that these issues can be dealt with internally.  My scouring of the Internet has not brought me many results.  Anybody out there opt out of surgery?

Thanks for reading,

Want more information on Hip Dysplasia?

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Laughing at Myself

Pricing is not my strong suit.  It is a constant balance between not feeling like I am working for free and worrying about loosing customers because the perceived value of my product is not in balance with the actual cost.

The other day I saw an Amazon Local deal for Yuen Lui.  The deal was a 30 minute photography session in studio or on location,  an 8x10, two 3x5 and eight wallets along with a digital image for $49.  Sounds great, but it says all this regularly costs $485! 

I haven't priced out studios in a while but whoa, that number made my head spin.  An equivalent package with me would be under $150 (yes, I just had to do the math.) 

Thanks for reading,


Friday, June 22, 2012

The Television Conundrum

I have always battled with the television conundrum. 

All too often, I know they watch "too much" according to the all mighty THEM.

Then I think about how son's favorite TV show since he was three has been Mythbusters.

I think about how my littlest knows not only her ABC's but also most of the letter sounds and she isn't yet three.

I think about how the actress has used plots she has seen on TV to create make believe games that drive her brother crazy.

I have watched them walk away from the TV to paint, read (or in my son's case he reads and watches TV at the same time...I don't know where he gets that from), or run outside to play with friends.
The problem with most of the people who say that TV is evil, is their solutions do not fit our family.  We do not live on a large plot of land.  Yes, we have a back yard, but it really isn't that interesting.  It is not something you can really explore.  We also live in Washington and well, a lot of days you just don't want to go outside. We live in a quiet neighborhood with one other house that has kids and that's it.

My kids also have a mother who doesn't play, not the way I am "supposed to." I am a more reading, discussion, and doing type of girl.

So, I think I am going to stop beating myself up about it.

Thanks for reading,

For further reading check out

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Rambling Along


I haven't been around in a while.  I'm sorry.  I know, it doesn't make up for my lack of attention.  I could make up a whole bunch of excuses like camping, children, schooling, doctor's appointments, but I've made time before, and none of those things are new complications to my life.  In the end, I have just been busy creating (oh yeah, and doing all those other things).  I have been trying to put together another Ardent Life Market, but the weather does not seem to be cooperating.  I really wanted to put one on this weekend....but again it looks like rain.  I haven't really had anything new to write about.  I have not been playing with any cool new techniques (though I have ruined a few things with my torch).  I went crazy with Magpie Rings and I have so many designs.  There is a tone of new copper work that I have shown you and I have started making flowers again for the big glass flower rings.  Oh, and now the baby is awake so i will leave you with this rambling post.

Best wishes,

Sarah McTernen

Monday, May 14, 2012

Assignment Photography

Challenge me. 

I dare you! 

Give me something to shoot. 

Give me a concept, an idea, a subject and I will shoot it. 

Come on. 

I dare you!

Post your challenges in the comments section or on my Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/ardnephotography.sm.

Sarah McTernen

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Why I Unschool

At this somewhat late stage in the game, I feel unprepared for life, with this pestering notion that I am constantly playing catch-up on the learning that I didn’t have time for when I was in school solving pages of similar math problems and writing essays on dead authors.  If only I had more time to prepare I would be better at this life. I would know why once purple glass turns yellow in the sun or how to properly treat a burn (which yes, I know now, but I was unprepared when it happened). I would have answers for all of the questions, okay not all of them because there are new ones every day, but I would have answers for a lot of the questions that enter my brain, questions that I do not have time to read about with three children needing breakfast, shoes found or to use the toilet.
You see these words and would expect me to want to send my kids off every day to school, so that I could have a moment to breath and read and find information, but why would I want to take away their ability to breath and read and find information on the questions that plague their brains.
Right now, the questions are often simple and do not take hours of reading and/or experimentation to uncover the snippet of understanding for which they are searching.  The time will come when, at least one of them if not all, will spend hours reading various volumes and the internet to solve a piece of the puzzle.  This will be because they want to, not because I am making them.  They will, in this way, learn to think and find information not just recite what they have been taught.  In my theory, in order to have that deep desire to really learn, one needs to have had time in life that does not involve deep pursuits.  This is why our school is on their terms…most of the time.
My kids are all under ten and we spend much of our day doing things that are not school related.  My oldest is reading a plethora of comic books and though he finished the entire Harry Potter series before he was eight, he has no interest in starting a new novel (that is until the next Rick Riordan book arrives at his door).  The next one in line is my odd man out.  She is an extroverted kinesthetic who would suck every bit of life from me if she could.  She cannot entertain herself for any length of time and cannot be alone.  She loves to draw and copy words.  Any lessons with her are short and once her brain wanders off, we stop because there is no point in trying to force her.  She started acting class this year, something we all knew she would do well with.  The youngest, who is 2 ½, may possibly read before her older sister.  She knows her alphabet, both aurally and visually, and speaks in clear cognizant sentences.  She can summarize a book or television show hours, days after being exposed to it.  My husband caught her one night with a flashlight and a book hiding under the covers.  They are allowed to be…nope that is it, they are allowed to be.
I question whether I am doing the right thing, keeping my kids home to let them learn naturally and not in some regimented way.  I think that is a parent’s job to constantly question whether they are doing the right thing, because a parent should want the best for his/her child.  I am breaking the “rules” of how childhood is “supposed” to be.  I am part of a larger and larger group of parents who are taking back the control of childhood.  I also have to remember how it was to be a child.  I hated school.  I LOVED learning.  I was always under the impression that I would learn so much more if I didn’t have to go to school every day.  That is what they get to do.  Learn on their own terms.
Thanks for reading,
Sarah McTernen

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Ardent Life Market - An Art Yard Sale

Ardent Life Market is This Weekend!

Come on down and visit.

Ardent Life Studio
6620 48th Street Ct W
University Place, WA

Handmade jewelry and lots of photographs, framed prints will mostly be hanging inside, but if you would like a tour, I will gladly walk you around. 

Also I am having a inventory reduction sale with select prints.  There is nothing wrong with the prints, but they are taking up too much room and I would like to lighten the load...okay, I want to print a whole lot of new work that I don't have room for at the moment.

$10 11x14s
$5 8x10s
$2 5x7s
$1 4x6s

Drive on over (or walk if you live nearby) and check out all the great things that will be out on my lawn, hang out and chat for a while.  I think my neighbor is also having a yard sale on Sunday, two birds with one stone. 

Check out the event on Facebook

Thanks for reading,

Sarah McTernen

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Copper Bracelet with Patina

This new bracelet has been a work in progress for many months.  Mostly because I hadn't decided to take the plung and stick my copper work in a contain with some hard boiled eggs.  In theory, I knew it would work, but I wasn't sure about the process.

I will blame this on Easter.  We had a plethera of dyed hardboiled eggs from the kids.  You can only eat so much egg salad.  Now was the time.  I got my already put together storage device consisting of a medium size yogurt container with a small cottage cheese container on the top with small holes punched in the bottom.  I cut three eggs in half and put the in the bottom and then put the cottage cheese container on top with the bracelet in it and closed the lid.  Worried about the smell, I taped the container closed with packing tape.  Then, I waited.  It sat for two weeks...or maybe it was three...I lost count. 

Finally, it was garbage day.  I was time to get rid of the stinky contents of my experiment and see if it was all worth it.  I had previously assumed I would reuse the container, but since it had been so long, and I wasn't sure the smell would ever really come out of the plastic, I threw the container away with the eggs and brought the bracelet in the house to clean.

I was so happy that the patina process had worked!  I cleaned the bracelet with some orange pumice soap and then let it dry.  The next day, I took out my torch and heat treated the metal to give it a little color.  I am very happy with the look of this piece and I can't wait to try it again.

Thanks for reading,
Sarah McTernen
Ardent Life Designs

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The Art of the Edit, or Lack Thereof

These last few weeks, I have been trying to work on the functional side of my business; working on the evil SEO and trying to find other ways to get people to find me.  In this process, I have also read quite a few articles about photography.  The thing that stuck with me about most of them, is that everyone is talking about photoshop actions. 

For those of you who don't know, a photoshop action is a set of commands that photoshop will run over each of your photograph and adjust lighting, contrast, and other settings depending upon the action.  They can be very useful when you are working with a large batch of photographs that you want to have a similar feel or you are re-sizing image.  I use one for saving things for web use.

My problem comes, when there are dozens upon dozens of photographers out there, using the same style of lighting, same warm glow or what have you instead of having a voice of his/her own or letting each photograph speak for itself. 

The other thing that I realized while reading these articles, was that, though I do use photoshop to develop my photographs, I don't do a lot of editing to my work anymore.  I shoot in RAW which is somewhat similar to a film negative.  You cannot view these files without a specific viewer and you have to develop them before being able to print them. 

This is the photograph that I shot.  The exposure is a little off because it was in my dark office and I am shooting the whirling dervish that is my daughter, but otherwise it is not a bad image by itself.  I lowered the color saturation and adjusted the exposure, added a bit more contrast and warmed up the light to create the image at the top of this article.  I let the photograph guide me to the feel the image should convey.

I know that most other photographers out there deal with a lot more images than I do, but that is also part of the problem.  Instead of looking for that one shot out of a hundred, which is what I do with all my art shots, we give our clients 50-60 images out of a hundred to choose from.  We sacrifice our artistic vision because we don't want to step on our clients taste.  The question we need to ask ourselves (and clients probably need to ask themselves as well) is, didn't they choose their photographer for his/her artistic vision?

I think my rant is done.

Thanks for reading,

Sarah McTernen

Sunday, March 11, 2012

I'm sorry...Multi-what?

Party Light - 8x10 Print $35

I just thought I had ADD.  Apparently there is a term for people who can't just keep doing the same thing forever without getting bored. 

Multipotentiality:  "An educational and psychological term referring to a pattern found among intellectually gifted individuals. [Multipotentialites] generally have diverse interests across numerous domains and may be capable of success in many endeavors or professions, they are confronted with unique decisions as a result of these choices."-Wikipedia  http://puttylike.com/terminology/

Then again, that definition says "intellectually gifted" and I am not sure I fall into that category anymore, since my brain has become a sieve.

Back when I was in school and trying to define myself, I first thought that I would be a violinist and go to conservatory back east, but I couldn't wrap my brain around committing my life to only playing the violin.  Then I thought about culinary school.  Hey, I loved to cook and bake and play with food.  Once again, the thought of only doing that, stifled my resolve.  This scenario played out through many other professions until I decided on teaching and then flaked out of college only to come home and start a photography business. 

I find it interesting that there is an entire community out there of people who may see the world similar to the way I do. 

Want to read more about it?  Check out http://puttylike.com

Thanks for reading,

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Blackberry Pancakes

Just About There - 8x10 Print $35

My lovely neighbor had a freezer issue and needed to get rid of the frozen blackberries that she had picked the previous summer.  I said of course I would take them, not knowing what I would do, but pretty sure I could figure something out.  My first thought was jam.  The problem with this thought is that I don’t know how to make jam, nor do I have any of the equipment to do it or the ingredients, like pectin.  So I tried to make no pectin jam and low sugar jam at the same time.  This did not work the way I wanted it to.  I had three jars of  blackberry not-jam.  I decided to make pancakes and those were delicious.

2 cups Whole Wheat Flour       
2 eggs
2 teaspoons baking powder  
2 cups buttermilk
1 teaspoon baking soda  
½ teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon salt   
¼ cup melted butter
1 ½ cups blackberry puree with honey and lemon juice

Mix together the dry ingredients in a small bowl.  Mix together all the wet ingredients except the butter in a larger bowl.  Pour dry ingredients into wet and mix thoroughly.  Add melted butter and stir until combined. 

Cook on a medium hot buttered griddle until bubbles begin to show.  Flip.  Cook for another minute or so or until brown and cooked through.

So yummy just writing this makes me want to go and make a batch!

Thanks for reading,
Sarah McTernen

PS:  Hey let me know what you think about this recipe.  I'd love to hear what you think!