In the Kitchen | Martha Stewart’s Spicy Cheese Biscuits

Marlin’s been sick with a terrible headache since last night, so this morning I decided we’d stay home and I’d make one of his favorite breakfasts.

This is my favorite recipe from my copy of Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook. It’s her spicy cheese biscuits and they are perfect for breakfast, brunch or a side for dinner. Or for curing headaches (hopefully). They’re quick, easy, and they’ll keep really well in the freezer if you want to make extra. Let me just save you the time. You’ll want to make extra.

Ashley Terry 2012

The spicy secret of this is the smoky sweet paprika mixed with the dry ingredients and sprinkled over the top just before baking. If you wanted to get really brave, you could add a little cayenne pepper, but I prefer the paprika. Also, the red flakes add a beautiful pop of color!

Ashley Terry 2012

My favorite part? The cheese of course! The recipe calls for gruyere, a yellow Swiss cheese, but you can use whatever you have on hand, cubed or shredded so it mixes in well. This morning I used a mix of a sharp cheddar and my personal favorite, pepper jack, which goes well with the spicy flavor profile.

Ashley Terry 2012

The recipe also calls for heavy cream, which works beautifully. I don’t always keep cream around, so in a pinch I’ll use plain soy milk. The catch is to use less than the amount of cream the recipe lists, because the soy milk is thinner than cream, so if you use the same amount, your mix will be too watery. I used just under a cup here, where it asks for 1 1/2 cups of cream.

Ashley Terry 2012

Bake at 375 for 15-20 minutes or just until they’re golden brown on the edges and cooked all the way through.

Ashley Terry 2012

These biscuits are heavenly all by themselves, straight out of the oven while they’re still hot and steamy when you open them. But the possibilities of sides you could put with them are endless.

Hopefully they’ll put a smile on Marlin’s face and have him feeling better soon. Happy Sunday! Now go make these!

Ashley Terry 2012

 

 

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The Inevitable…and why I need more skinny jeans

The past week or so has been pretty exciting. Ever since I decided it was time to tell the world that I want to be a wedding photographer (did you hear, by the way?), it’s practically been spilling off my tongue to anyone who will listen. I’m amazed at the change in where I am now from where I was the day before I told my secret. Since the new year, I’ve joined three online networking groups for photographers. I’ve met six or seven new photographers in Austin and I’ve got a coffee date this week to meet another new friend. I’ve been offered the opportunity to shadow/second shoot for one (yes, I will be following up with you! We’ve got to make that happen!). I have an invitation to coffee with my own wedding photographer, Leah, who thankfully has been nothing but supportive and encouraging. I have business cards.

Yes, I’ve come a long way from the girl who two weeks ago spent night after night studying the sites of wedding photographers wishing that I could do what they do. I’m at the very beginning. I’ve got a long, long, way to go, but I’m on my way.

More proof? I’m headed to WPPI and Showit United next month in crazy Las Vegas, and I’ve learned some of the most valuable events and meet-ups aren’t on the calendar, but typically happen at a moments notice and if you’re not on Twitter or Facebook, you’re going to be out of the loop. Well hey, if I’m going to make the trek all the way to sin city and invest the time, I do not want to miss out. So I did the inevitable…I traded in my archaic, dusty but trusty old cell phone for one of these things.

Ashley Terry 2012

Not really by choice, mind you, but for the $0.99 deal AT&T was offering, I couldn’t pass it up. And I have to admit…it’s kind of neat. Don’t tell my husband I said that. This now makes a MacBook and two iPhones in our house. Are we hipster enough to own this many Apple products? I think I should go invest in a few more pair of skinny jeans, just to be safe.

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Bookshelf | Pray Big: The Power of Pinpoint Prayers, by Will Davis, Jr.

It’s Sunday morning and the house is still quiet. It’s just Dugan (my 8 year-old terrier mutt) and me on the couch, trying not to wake the others up. In a couple of hours we’ll be running around, finishing breakfast and heading out to church, so I wanted to take some time now and tell you about the book I’ve just finished…literally. Like five minutes ago.

Courtesy Guideposts.com

I bought a copy of Pray Big for myself after buying several copies for Christmas gifts last year. I’ve never really been interested in books about prayer, because I’ve always wondered what makes someone else an authority on prayer and why I should listen to them. After all, prayer is a personal thing between my God and me, right? I’ve never seen the need for any involvement from someone else there. Who says there is a right way or a wrong way to pray? Anyway, you get the idea.

I almost feel like this book knew who I was and that I needed to read it. It was determined to put itself in my path at some point. Why? Because I’ve been praying for years, but I’ve never allowed myself to pray for anything really specific. I always thought, I’m lucky enough to be talking to God as it is. I’m not going to push it. He knows what’s best, so I’ll just pray those generic thoughts like “Lord, please be with my Dad today,” or “Lord, let your will be done,” or “God, please bless Laura today.” That’s all fine, but looking back, I know that God is already doing those things, whether I ask Him or not. He is always with my Dad. His will is always supreme, and He is already blessing Laura, long before I think to ask. I always worried that praying for specific things was selfish, that it meant I thought I knew better than God does. What I learned is that Jesus Himself taught us how to pray, and when He prayed, He didn’t use those vague phrases we all know. He just opened up and had a good heart to heart with his Father. He talked to God as if He were sitting right next to Him, and He said what was on His mind. If He wanted God to do something, He simply asked for it.

I love what Will says here: “If you were really sure that God hears and answers your prayers, would it change the way you pray? What are you praying for today that will require a miraculous answer from God? What are you asking for that only God can do? You chose worry over prayer, stress over hope, and defeat over victory because you believed God simply wouldn’t respond to something so trivial.” Hello, Ashley!

I could go on and on, but I really suggest getting a copy for yourself and seeing what God has to teach you from it. My communion with Him, the way I spend my time with the Creator of the universe, is forever changed. The way I pray for my friends and family and for the world will never be the same. I just can’t wait to see what God will do!

Happy Sunday to you all! Here’s hoping for lots of rest and replenishment; what Sundays are made for.

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Random & Not So Random

In completely random news today, Marlin and I decided that Thursday nights are going to be our new date night, so this will be the last time I post on a Thursday night for a while. This means I have to get myself in gear and make it happen in the early mornings. Anyone know a good drill sergeant to keep me on track?

In not-so-random news today, look who’s got her very first set of photography business cards!

Ashley Terry 2012

I’m so excited I wanted to give one to the woman at the furniture store tonight…and to our waiter at Chili’s (thank you again for the gift card, White Family)! I put one aside to keep for sentimental value and I really want to frame another set, but, alas, they must go out into the world and help me meet some brides!

For anyone out there looking for business cards, I used Moo, which is a company I’ve never heard of, but they totally rocked my socks off. Your first 50 cards are free. They have beautiful templates to choose from or you can design your own (see cards above). You can choose to print on recycled paper (um, hello, I was sold right there). And to top it off, these babies weren’t due to arrive in my mailbox for another two weeks and they showed up today! For that, Moo now has my undying devotion. I have no time to waste, people!

So, who wants a business card? Don’t be surprised if you see them floating around all over town. I may just climb to the roof of the Austonian and  toss them out by the handful.

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Why you need to say it out loud.

A few days ago I proclaimed to the World Wide Web and the whole wide world that I want to be a wedding photographer. It sounded as crazy in my head as it does when I sit here typing it, and that’s precisely why I waited so long to admit it.

But the craziest things have started to happen. Out of the blue, I got the sweetest note of encouragement from a photographer that I adore on my blog. I’m getting congratulatory notes from photographers in the online forum I’m part of. I got connected with another group that’s meeting up this week for an industry web conference (I’m bringing the veggie tray, ’cause I’m cool like that). And I’m connecting with new photographers on Facebook and Twitter, starting conversations with people who have been where I am and are headed where I want to be.

Did you get that? I told the world my big, crazy, audacious, outrageous plan and it totally laughed at me welcomed me with open arms. Now, I’m not naive enough to believe that everyone out there is happy about my plans, but I won’t spend much time listening to them anyway.

What dreams do you have for 2012 (and beyond) that you’re afraid to say out loud? What happens may just surprise you.

Ashley Terry 2012

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January Goals

Yesterday I wrote the rent check for our apartment and oh my goodness, do you realize it’s actually 2012? January is here, 2011 is gone, and time keeps flying by so it’s time to get busy on the goals! A few days ago I posted about sharing my professional goals, so I want to do that each month for 2012. Partly to keep myself accountable (hold me accountable, Internet!), but also to share my journey and hopefully to learn from any of you who are kind enough to leave some feedback on my crazy aspirations.

Ready? Here we go!

1. I’ll write a rough draft of the first six devotional topics for the book I’m writing this year (i.e.those crazy aspirations)

2. Get my first wedding on the calendar!

This is a big one, y’all. I don’t know who they are yet, but I have a feeling my first wedding couple will be friends I’ll be forever grateful for. We’ve all got to start somewhere, right? I can’t wait to meet you, whoever you are!

3. Build out a basic outline for the magazine (yes, magazine!) I’m planning.

Maybe I should rename this post from “January Goals” to “My Crazy Aspirations.” This will include ideas for a title (I’ve been racking my brain on this for months, but the right thing just hasn’t come to me yet), basic concept and reader profile, and a decision on the publication platform I’ll be using (I’m thinking we’ll start with digital editions to begin with).

So there it is! Now you know how truly crazy I am, and I have an idea of how challenging 2012 will be. I couldn’t be more excited!

Ashley Terry 2012

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Here it is. No turning back.

I’ve donned my favorite lounge pants, poured a glass of Riesling, and I’m ready to spend a quiet night at home with the dogs and my hubby. I can’t think of a better way to finish out the year, and oh what a year it has been. Twelve months ago I had a brand new camera, no idea what I was doing, and one really big blurry picture in my head of what I wanted for my life.

This year I’ve reminded myself of my pre-teen self, when I was quite obviously head-over-heels in Crushville for that blonde-headed boy in class. I’d spend the afternoons daydreaming about the day when he’d ask me to be his girlfriend, all the while completely denying even knowing his name when my friends would ask me if I liked him.

“You think I like who?!…Are you crazy? I’m not even sure I know who that is. Why would I like him? You have no idea what you’re talking about…Please.”

I felt that way this year. Any time anyone would ask me about photography, I’d try to play it off (key word is try) like I was too cool for school.

Me, a photographer? No, no, I just play around here and there a little. It’s nothing, really. I actually have no idea what I’m doing.

As cool as I tried to be, I’m pretty sure I’m just as transparent as I was back in grade school. In the words of Jasmine Star, I was knocking on photography’s door, and even flirting a little, but that was it. I didn’t really want anyone to catch on. Because then I’d be vulnerable.

For months now, I’ve been thinking about my goals for the new year and what I want my life to look like in 2012. It’s time for me to put a stake in the ground, because that’s the only way I’m going to get anywhere. So, you’ll hear it first.

2012 is going to be about building my business, Ashley Terry Creative. Starting from the ground, bootstrappin’ it like the best of ’em, and earning my place in the industry. Writing & wedding photography. Yes, I said wedding photography. No, I’m not overlooking the obvious, crazy as it may seem. I’ve never really shot a wedding. So I must start somewhere.

To all my family and friends, here it is: I want to be a wedding photographer. Typing that sentence almost throws me into a panic attack, but it also feels so exciting! So if you know anyone who’s getting engaged or married or might be getting engaged or married, or wants to pretend they’re engaged or getting married, and has no budget, I’m asking you to please send them to my site to get to know me a little. Because I have photography skills but I need to get experience with a wedding, I’m offering to provide full coverage for one wedding, completely free. Yes, free.

If you’re a wedding photographer in need of a second shooter, assistant, or someone to bring you cold water and fan you while you work, I’m your girl. I’d be thrilled to talk to you about any possible opportunities to work with you. It would be an honor.

So there it is. No going back. No debating over what I want to do or where I want to go, it’s out there. 2012, watch out. Here I come!

So even though you can’t see me, I’m raising my glass of Riesling. Here’s to you, to all of your triumphs and challenges in 2011, and to a very happy, very safe, very BLESSED new year. Cheers, my friends! Let’s do this!

Ashley Terry 2011

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Homemade Gift Idea: Candied Cinnamon Pecans & Almonds

This year we’re really blessed to have lots of great gifts to share with our friends and family for Christmas. Just walking by our little tree in the corner with presents overflowing underneath reminds me of how much we have, and we’re so lucky to be able to give it away. By now, the day before Christmas Eve, I’ve done plenty of shopping, but some of the gifts I’m most excited about sharing are the ones I’ve made: little pint mason jars of candied cinnamon pecans and almonds. They’re a perfect treat for snacking and sharing; they’re salty and sweet; they’re easy to make, and with a bright little bow on top, they’re a super sweet gift for anyone you know, so I thought I’d share the recipe with all of you, too.

Here’s the disclaimer: this is not my original recipe. In fact, I should probably call these Sweet Aunt Briggett’s Cinnamon Pecans & Almonds, but, well, that takes so much more energy. My Aunt Briggett sent me the recipe so that I could make favors for my cousin Katlyn’s wedding, and Marlin and I couldn’t stay away from them. They’re completely addicting. I wish they were more difficult to make; knowing how quick and easy they are is really dangerous.

Okay, here goes:

1 cup sugar (you could use white or brown)

1/2 cup cold water

3/4 teaspoon salt (I like kosher, especially for sprinkling over the top at the end)

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract (this is no time for cheap substitutes–the real deal is irreplaceable)

4 cups pecan halves & almonds (or any mix of nuts you prefer)

Combine the sugar, water, salt & vanilla in a small saucepan. Boil to 24o degrees or about 4 minutes (whisking intermittently).

Remove from the heat and pour over the pecans & almonds in a large mixing bowl; add cinnamon.

Stir until the syrup forms an even sugar coating. Spread the nuts out flat on a cookie sheet covered with parchment paper for cooling.

Try not to eat them all in one sitting. Easier said than done.

Copyright Ashley Terry 2011

Copyright Ashley Terry 2011

The warm cinnamon makes these perfect gifts for Christmas and any winter holiday. Small glass jars and a big red bow make them a beautiful little gift for anyone on your list!

Copyright Ashley Terry 2011

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Bookshelf: Uncovered, by Susie Davis

I first came across a column by Susie Davis about a year-and-a-half ago, in an issue of Austin Woman Magazine. At the end I read that she and her husband, Will, had built a church on the northwest side of town. I was interested because Marlin and I had just moved and were looking to get connected in a church and had yet to find one we felt comfortable with. Fast forward to today, and not only have we found a new church home that we’re pretty excited about, but I’ve also found a new author to tell you about.

It’s an easy read. Uncovered: Revealing the Secrets of a Sexy Marriage. It’s one that you could read while sipping an iced (insert your beverage of choice here), lying on a nice beach towel watching the waves go back and forth. It’s also one you could curl up with by the bedside lamp with a cup of hot tea and stay up all night to finish without even realizing it. It’s funny, real, and inspiring.

But what I love most about it is the lesson I never knew I had never realized, even two years after the wedding (I know, we’re practically seasoned vets, don’t you think?). In the chapter titled “Materialism and the Man,” Susie warns about the threats of being obsessed with things, with what we have, and how we appear to be doing to everyone on the outside. Yes, we’ve all heard this before. But she goes on to write that lowering our standards or crushing our cravings for stuff is not going to be a long-term solution; rather, we should really think about raising our expectations. Not the expectations of what we have, but raising the expectations of what our marriage should be and stand for. Her answer? Giving your marriage a mission.

I’m going to stop here for a second because I’m a little embarrassed to say that she ended up going in an entirely different direction than I was expecting. She asks why you got married in the first place and I went down my list: Build a life with my best friend…check. Provide a stable home and family for the future children I hope to have…check. Irresistible smile and dimples…triple check. Okay, there was a little more to my decision than that, but you get the idea. What I never considered about getting married was this:

“While Will and I love each other immensely, we are also out there loving God and others…while doing so, we are fulfilling our mission to love and serve…and it’s in this comprehensive context that we find meaning in our marriage. A marriage mission is about understanding that the union you share is not just about the two of you. Your marriage has a higher calling and a bigger vision–and that can change everything.”

Whoa. Do you see why I was embarrassed to admit that I’d never realized this before? It seems so common sense, but honestly I was just always concerned about how our marriage served my husband. Now I realize that as a couple, God can use our marriage to serve others.

Thanks for bringing this life-changing revelation to my universe, Susie. I was a major fan of marriage before, but this takes it to a whole other level. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to find a mission.

Amazon.com

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First steps

Last month I did something really crazy and brave. Well, brave for me, at least. After setting my goals at work for the upcoming year, I decided to type them out and post them on my office window for everyone to see. The idea was to get people talking to me about how I’m doing. Since my job is all about building community and positive morale within our company, I want people to tell me what’s working…and what’s not (though I’ll be honest, I don’t always get as excited when they have that feedback). I want my colleagues to know what I’m working on because I want their input and ideas.

My sign has definitely garnered some reaction from those who pass by my office. Mostly, it seems like people think I’ve lost my mind. Who would list out their goals one by one so specifically and post them to be judged by? While it hasn’t caught on with others around the office, the one thing it has done is started conversations that probably would never happen without it. Sure, not everything is something I want to hear, but it’s dialogue, and that gets the ideas rolling. What’s even better is that I have forty people to keep me on track and accountable for my commitments. Bingo.

If I know anything about creative types, it’s that we typically don’t like to share our ideas until we feel like we’ve fleshed them out…and then built on them a little…and then spent a few hundred hours perfecting them…and then decided it’ll never be what we want it to be, so why even bother. This, unfortunately, often means that we never act on our ideas, because we’re too busy trying to make them perfect before we tell anyone. Well, nothing is perfect in the beginning, and if we can’t get past this thought process, we’ll spend all our time thinking about the ideas that we could have pursued and wake up to realize that we’ve never done anything to make them a reality.

So I’m taking the first step to changing my creative behavior. I’m announcing to the world that I’d like to write a book! Yes, a book. I’m thinking a little devotional book of short essays, but I’m not completely sure yet, and you know what? That’s okay. I’m telling you anyway because you might want to encourage me with a nice little motivational quote, or you might want to tell me that you’ve always wanted to do the same thing. You might want to tell me that you have a passion for editing and you’d be willing to help me work through my thoughts over a nice cup of coffee or that your Aunt Sarah works for a hip new digital publishing company and this is just the kind of thing she’s looking for. Or maybe you just want to tell me that the book industry is dying and no one reads devotionals anymore, and who on Earth do I think I am and why would I have anything interesting to say, and oh by the way, I better be really nice to my boss and keep my day job. That’s fine, too. I’ve decided it’s worth the risk of someone telling me that what I’m doing is dumb. I’m taking a risk, opening myself up to criticism, and I’ll take as many positive thoughts as I can get. Because I think a “why not” attitude is what real accomplishment is made of.

So I’ll  let you know how it’s going from time to time, and feel free to leave your thoughts in the comment box below. Just remember I have the power to delete if I don’t like what you have to say. If only that worked in every part of life.

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