Friday, July 25, 2008

Sharing a Little of My Polish Heritage

One of my hobbies is genealogy and I've learned a lot about my ancestors in the last 10 years of research, solved some family questions, met some very distant cousins and learned even more about my heritage. The past several years my research focus has been on my Polish ancestors who immigrated to the US and settled in western Pennsylvania.

Yesterday afternoon, I was trying to figure out what we were going to have for dinner and something popped into my mind that I have not had since I was a child - Halupkis. Both my grandmother and my mom used to make these a lot when I was young and it's a meal that my Polish great grandparents would have made, too. When we were little, our family called them Pigs in a Blanket which is a much different version than the hotdog in a crescent roll.

Making them and eating them last night brought back a lot of memories and took me back to envisioning my ancestors making them, too. So, I thought I would share this delicious Polish recipe with you.

Halupki (Stuffed Cabbage Rolls)

4-6 servings

1 head cabbage
1 1/4 lbs ground meat
salt and pepper
1 egg
1 teaspoon parsley
1/2 onion, chopped
1 clove chopped garlic
1 cup cooked rice
2 cans tomato soup
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon vinegar
1 3/4 cups water

In a large pot (I used an 8qt size), boil the head of cabbage 10-15 minutes. Carefully remove the leaves from the head after the cabbage has been boiled.

In a medium bowl, mix the meat, salt and pepper, egg, parsley, garlic, onion and rice together.

Place a spoonful of the meat mixture into a blanched cabbage leaf (use more meat mixture if the leaf is large) and roll the cabbage leaves to enclose the meat mixture.

In a 5-quart dutch oven, place some leaves of cabbage on bottom of pan.

Add cabbage rolls on top with the seams face down.

Mix tomato soup, sugar, vinegar, and water together.

Pour over cabbage rolls, cover and cook on medium heat for 1 1/2 hours.


Thursday, July 24, 2008

A Tiny Little Bundle of Absolute Joy :: Jacksonville Newborn Photographer

Oh my, this little guy stole my heart today. Mom and Dad brought him by for his first portraits for his birth announcements. He was an absolute dream to photograph -- so tiny, so precious. He was sound asleep for the entire session, except for an occasional peek to see what was going on, and he must have been having very sweet dreams as he gave us so many beautiful smiles in his sleep.

Mom and Dad, congratulations! I'm so very happy for you both! Thank you so much for bringing him in! Here's a little sneak peek for you before I see you next week! Give him a little hug for me!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

What an AWESOME Day at Kutting for Kids

Today I had the incredible opportunity to help photograph the Kutting for Kids event at the Orange Park Mall. All I can say is WOW! So many wonderful people showed up to donate their hair to Locks of Love -- from all ages, all walks of life, it was just amazing! If I remember correctly, the last update I read on the sign that the Orange Park Girl Scouts were updating said 400 donations with the longest single ponytail being 28-inches long -- that was towards the end of the 4 hour event.

Kutting for Kids was first started nine years ago by Jeannie Blalock and First Coast News to help get donations for Locks of Love who take the donations and make custom wigs for children who do not have hair due to medical reasons. It takes Six to 10 donated ponytails to make just one hairpiece.

As I was walking around today to the different stylist stations, I had the opportunity to talk to some of the individuals who were donating their hair. What incredible stories they have. From one man who began growing his hair several years ago after his wife's father died from cancer. He received a lot of grief from people about having long hair until he told them of his reason for growing it. His wife donated her ponytail a few weeks ago and he brought her here today so he could donate his.

One little six year old girl came in with incredibly long, beautiful hair. She had never had a haircut but wanted more than anything to donate her hair so another child could have it. The stylist cut 18 inches. I don't know who was more nervous - she or her mom, but she looked just beautiful and dad even bought her a princess tiara for after her hair was cut. She didn't know what to think at first when she was checking out her ponytail that mom was holding.

These were just a few of the many amazing stories I was told today.

It was definitely a day filled with emotion. Watching the questionable expressions on the faces of some of the little ones when mom came back after getting her hair cut was priceless - they didn't really know what to think. There were many who were ecstatic to have the extra weight off their head, and there were some who were nervous and a few that shed a tear or two. And there were a few who had their hair cut recently and saved their ponytail so that they could give it to Jeannie, like this young lady.

While everyone was celebrating the day, some very talented musicians played some pretty awesome music for everyone to enjoy! The Simon Mall Kidgits also had a table where the little girls who got their hair cut could decorate and personalize a hairband with some pretty cool stickers! A clown painted faces and Batman even made an appearance!

To EVERYONE who came out today, THANK YOU you so very much for making such a great turnout to such an amazing event.

To see more images, please log on to the First Coast News website, click the View Videos and Photos link and select the Kutting for Kids gallery. Here are just a few of the many images taken today!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Kutting for Kids - Orange Park Mall - Sunday, July 20

One of the most rewarding things in life is to selflessly give of yourself unto others. This Sunday, July 20 from noon to 4pm at the Orange Park Mall outside the JC Penney court, you have the opportunity to do just that. You can stop by and donate your hair at Kutting for Kids - in its 9th year thanks to Jeannie Blaylock and First Coast News.

If you have at least ten inches of hair to donate, then stop on by and the professional stylists will cut and style your hair at no charge.

All of the hair donations will be donated to Locks of Love which is a non-profit organization that uses the hair donations to create custom hairpieces for children who do not have hair due to medical reasons.

It's summertime, it's Florida,and it's hot outside. Treat yourself to a cool new "do" while helping a wonderful organization help some pretty amazing kids. Make this a special event for the whole family.

I look forward to seeing you there!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Family Fun! Upcoming Events You Won't Want to Miss

We've heard about some pretty fun upcoming events and we just wanted to pass them along to you! The first one is more for little ones, but the second one would be great for some of the older kids. Enjoy!

Sing Along - Wednesday, July 23, 10am and 11am: Anna Moo will be performing at Pottery Barn Kids in St. Johns Town Center. Come and sing along and have some fun!

Kite Workshop - Saturday, July 26, 10am: Fort Clinch State Park is hosting a Kite Workshop on July 26. The program will begin with a short introduction to the history and basics of kite flying. Attendees will then have the opportunity to create their own kite and fly it on the beach. All activities are included with paid admission to the park, of $5 per vehicle. Call the park to sign up as participation is limited. 904-277-7274.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Our new web site is launched!

I can't begin to tell you how excited I am! Today, we launched our new web site! It's been a long time coming, but the wait is finally over!

I guess having been a web designer/programmer for 14 years has its pros and cons - pros are a custom designed site that no one else has and truly represents the studio's image and branding. The cons, well, as an artist, I'm a perfectionist, so everything had to be just right, so it took just a bit longer than I had originally wanted it to take. I still have a few minor things to tweak, but I'm so very proud of the results.

We invite you to take a look through the new site and let us know what you think!

Friday, July 4, 2008

Happy Independence Day!!!

"We hold these truths to be sacred & undeniable; that all men are created equal & independent, that from that equal creation they derive rights inherent & inalienable, among which are the preservation of life, & liberty, & the pursuit of happiness. " - Thomas Jefferson

There's nothing like enjoying a hometown parade to celebrate the 4th of July! This morning, we joined many others to watch the festive parade in Middleburg. Our daughter was excited to be in the parade with her Karate studio, Middleburg Martial Arts.

Ean, Karl and I waved our flags and celebrated with everyone around us. Of course we had our camera and got some amazing images of many of the wonderful groups and floats, and of course Mikaela doing some of her karate. But, those will have to wait until later this weekend to post a few of those. What an awesome morning!

We're going to enjoy an afternoon cookout and then tonight we'll be heading to St. Augustine to watch the fireworks from the bridge!

We wish all of our clients, friends, family and this wonderful country we live in a Happy Independence Day. God Bless the USA!

(We encourage you to check out - something very close to our hearts.)