Chocolate Oikos + EDABV Confetti Casserole

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Before I dig into today, can I point out that last night…

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Bailey and I got cuddly on the couch and watched TV.

Guess what was on?

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Only my very favorite Get Fresh with Sara Snow episode…

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…the one where I learned about the National Gourmet Institute, Fran Costigan, and her Chocolate Cake to Live For!

I still can’t believe I won her delicious biscotti and mini cakes in the Bake Sale for Haiti and that she’s featuring my photos on her web site. :mrgreen:

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Ok, moving on to today.

Chocolate Oikos Review

I was really feeling like oatmeal today (the hot stuff, not muesli style) but I didn’t quite wake up early enough.

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Luckily, I was pretty excited to bust out my new Stonyfield Chocolate Oikos yogurt.

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For some reason, I was thinking the yogurt would look sort of like pudding. I don’t know why because it says “chocolate (pure pleasures) on the bottom” on the container. Anywho, this is what it looked like when I took the lid off.

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See – chocolate on the bottom – just like the box said.

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I mixed up the yogurt and then mixed chia seeds in for extra nutrition.

The flavor was definitely chocolate-y but not overpoweringly so. There was of course the tangy taste of yogurt present too. The yogurt basically tasted like what you might expect if you mixed chocolate syrup into plain greek yogurt, except you don’t have to run out and buy chocolate syrup to make it happen.

As with most flavored Oikos yogurts, the taste was sweet but not too sweet.

If you like how honey transitions to Honey Oikos, then you’d probably like how Stonyfield brings chocolate to greek yogurt. Just don’t expect pudding. ;)

Overall, I really liked the yogurt and would definitely buy this again.

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Breakfast was rounded out with butter honey whole wheat toast and Larry’s beans coffee.

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More egg salad for lunch.

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I grabbed a giant hot pretzel with mustard and 1/2 a Heineken at my company’s quarterly meeting today. Hubby and I actually have some frozen pretzels ready to bake in our freezer. I picked them up at Earthfare, and I’m eager to try them!

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I decided to try out an Eat Drink and Be Vegan recipe for dinner tonight. I know I said I’m going meatless, not vegan, but one can be non-vegan and enjoy vegan fare.

For our second Meatless for Lent dinner, I tried the Quinoa Chick Pea Confetti Casserole.

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Lots of good stuff in there: bell pepper, chick peas, fennel, quinoa and lots of spices.

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I multi-tasked while the casserole baked away.

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I took a moment to throw away some Gelatine from the pantry. Ever since I found out gelatin is made out of animal cartilage and bones…I can’t eat it. Ew! :shock:

Here’s an explanation from fitsugar.com:

Gelatin is a translucent, colorless, odorless, and nearly tasteless substance that is made by prolonged boiling of skin, cartilage and bones from animals. It’s made primarily from the stuff meat industries have left over – we’re talking about pork skins and cattle bones. Yummy.

Just ew.

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Check out this little guy I found on my parsley plant. I put him outside.

I also wrote a post on Tripod Shopping Tips for Food/Craft Bloggers for you food and still-life photographers out there.

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Soon enough, dinner was ready.

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I was really worried hubby was going to hate it, but he seemed to like it ok.

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Seconds.

I thought the entree was really good. I liked the play on fennel bulb paired with fennel seed flavor-wise. I also liked the texture combination of tender quinoa and firm chick peas.

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Sweet hubby not only picked up some groceries for dinner but also surprised me with an Earthfare whole wheat chocolate chip cookie. My how I adore these!

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Oh yea! So good with some organic 2% milk.

Remember to send me your heart photos for the Heart Yourself Campaign .

I’m off to watch Men’s Figure Skating.

Reader Question: Which Olympic star are you most pulling for in Vancouver?

Tripod Shopping Tips for Food/Craft Bloggers

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If you’re a food or craft blogger, whether you have a point and shoot or a DSLR, a tripod is probably a good investment, especially if you’re working with low lighting that will slow down your shutter speed, giving you blurry photos.

Before I get into the tips, I should point out that these tips are more geared towards the beginner. If you’re a photo pro you probably know all this and more (so leave a comment with your tips if you’d like!). ;)

Point and Shoot Tripod Tips

If you have a point and shoot camera, you can get a decent tripod from your local photography shop for around $20. It’s not top of the line but it’ll get the job done. I’ve also seen some neat ones with bendy legs that you can wrap around stuff like poles or fences, which seem pretty neat.

If you have a point and shoot, I would get:

  • A standing one for $20-ish
  • A tripod with the bendy legs.
  • Basically, I’d keep it simple. :)

DSLR Tripod Tips

If you have a DSLR, you’ll want to make a better investment. When I went shopping, I wanted to purchase a medium quality tripod. I didn’t want the cheapest one, but I didn’t want the top of the line either. I wanted one I could use for a long time and one that gave me some good flexibility in usage and ability to upgrade later (upgrades as far as head). The tips below are geared towards such a tripod, but could be beneficial no matter which level you want to purchase.

Here are some of my personal tips (apply as best fit your specific situation, financially, lifestyle-wise, etc.):

When you’re ready to start shopping and/or buy a tripod, go to your local camera shop. Most small photography stores hire real photographers, so they can offer you real life advice and tips from their experience or from what they’ve heard from their customer feedback. I also like having someone there to answer my questions as I think of them or make decisions between different options. Plus, you’ll be supporting a local business On top of that if you build relationships with your local shop, they can help give you extra advice in other areas or on future purchases. Some small photography shops even sell used tripods (or other equipment)! I am so glad I went to my local store – the man I spoke with was soooo helpful! Btw, you can probably get tripods online cheaper, but saving money won’t save you anything if you get the wrong one (not that buying one in person guarantees you won’t but it helps) plus supporting local businesses rocks!

Ask the right questions. Explain how you intend to use the tripod so the person assisting you can help narrow down some good options. Ask questions about usability based on the types of photos you take now, where you plan to take your photos, etc. If the person helping you understands your needs, they can better help you.

Good tripods are expensive. But beyond price, think of the investment sitting on top of your tripod. You could get a cheap camera, but would saving $50 be worth your $500 camera crashing to the ground and breaking? IMO, no. My tripod cost me $170-ish and was considered one of the lower-end ones! I was very surprised at how much good tripods cost. I heard you can get decent ones for $80 but the man at the store said it would be worth it to pay more if I thought I’d use it after my photography class. I really didn’t want to spend so much but I did want to get a good tripod that would last me for a long time, too.

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Save money by purchasing a tripod that already comes with a head (make sure you can replace the head for flexibility). Most tripods are actually sold without heads (the attachment at the top of the tripod where the camera is connected to the tripod). I looked at one tripod that was about $150 and a head that was $100. Talk about a lot of moolah, and I wasn’t even looking at the most expensive ones! The nice man at the photo shop where I went showed me a tripod that already came with a head, which saved me some money. He said I could upgrade to a better head later when I have more money.

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Get a tripod that has legs that do not attach in the center. Many tripods, especially the more affordable ones will have legs that attach in the center. This will limit what angles you can put your tripod in. My tripod, pictured, does not attach in the center, so my legs will flatten all the way down if I want. I don’t know that I’ll ever flatten my legs all the way down on my tripod, but I can at least widen them as much as I need or do different angles. I have more flexibility in leg positions this way.

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Get a tripod that will extend very tall. If you’re a food or craft blogger, you may find yourself wanting to take photos looking straight down onto something on your countertop. If your tripod puts your camera high enough, you can accomplish this with the sturdy hold of a tripod (as opposed to your shaky hand).

In case you’re curious, I purchased the Vanguard Tracker 4 tripod. I’m very happy with it so far. It’s a bit heavy and doesn’t come with a bag (so I may sew one?) but it works well.

Questions? Comments? Tips you’d like to add? Leave me some comment love. :P

PS I’m planning on doing some posts on my personal photography tips – just a head’s up

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