Sunday, January 31, 2010

fun in the snow!


make up photog tip for this week~"the rule of two thirds”


this week we are going to talk about "the rule of two thirds". one of the most BORING things you can do is to take a picture with your subject dead center like the one below:


it’s our natural tendency to want to place our subjects perfectly center in our photographs, but doing so is actually very unappealing to the eye.

if you think of a tic-tac-toe board, when taking your photos, you want to ideally place your subject at any point where the horizontal line meets the vertical line. you can see these points marked by a star in my beautiful diagram below:


clearly i am NOT an artist as you can see i can’t even draw a straight line—ha! you get the point though.

here is the same picture with the subject off-center:


and this was from before, so you can see them closer together.


here’s another example:





see how there’s something “uncomfortable” about the subject being completely centered?

i always attempt to take all of my pictures with the subject placed appropriately off center, but now with technology, you don’t even have to stress about that during your photo shoot! we are able to crop photos in the post processing stage to move our subjects to the ideal points.

speaking of, there are many basic photo editing programs out there—i currently use photoshop elements and i love it, but will be upgrading in the future to lightroom. i only recommend these programs if you are serious enough to take quite a bit of time studying how to use them or else you will become very frustrated and will waste your money.

you don’t need these programs to do basic photo editing!picasa, is a great FREE program you can download that provides many basic editing functions such as cropping.

Friday, January 29, 2010

a whole lot of randomess and “show us your life friday”


well after yesterday’s debacle, i’ve got some catching up to do….

1) i plan to do a make up the photog tip this weekend since i missed it this thursday. if you want to know why, click HERE. i’m pretty confident that the explanation is clear and you will extend me a little bit of grace :-)

2) in case you are wondering, today it took 1 time, that is IT! (you need to read the above-referenced post to understand).

3) i love my kids SO MUCH! i think connor may be coming down with an ear infection and i’m sure it will be become unbearable TOMORROW when our roads are completely iced over and we’ll have to hit the ER since NOTHING will be open—gotta love the mommy drama! anywho, as i was saying, connor has been a bit fussy and he’s pretty much NEVER fussy (dream baby i know!) but tonight when i was nursing him to put him to bed, he could NOT stop laughing! he was laughing hysterically for like 10 minutes—I almost didn’t put him to bed but then i remembered that he barely napped at all today (again, quite uncommon).


AND, i think parker actually feels bad about yesterday’s episode (again, see yesterday’s post). tonight i told him that i couldn’t bend over because my back hurt me and then i proceeded to mumble that it was because i had to put him back into bed 168 times yesterday. he didn’t say anything, but a little while later he came to me and said, “mommy your back hurt?” and i said “yes”. and then he started rubbing my back!!!!! and he asked if it was “all better”! OMGOODNESSSSSSS!!!! seriously, i may have the most strong-willed child in the world, but he is also the most sweetest, caring and loving little boy.  it makes yesterday totally worth it!

4) i love this windows live writer program for blogging. the download is free so be sure to check it out if you are a blogger.

5) i’m so excited i’ve got music on my blog! i love these songs and i hope you enjoy them too! who ever knew that i would ever like christian music so much!

6) does anyone know how to clean an oven safely? i have a self cleaning oven, but i’m afraid to be breathing in the toxic fumes for 5 hours. you can see it’s been a while….


7) we are supposed to get snow and /or ice tonight. i’m HOPING/PRAYING it’s snow! having no electricity with two little ones is beyond challenging. it makes me ever so thankful for what we have on a daily basis and also to pray for those who don’t even have WATER in haiti, let alone electricity! in these moments i realize just how blessed i am.

8) show us your life friday. i’ve been trying to keep up with kelly from kelly’s corner with these each friday. today is about FASHION TIPS. unfortunately, i have fallen into the mommy trap and don’t really consider myself very fashionable anymore. i think i’m WAY behind the latest trends and probably won’t ever catch up ha!

one thing i do know is that investing it a good pair of jeans can make any post-baby figure look great! i don’t know what it is, but somehow high-quality jeans are able to give that lift where you need it most!

have a great weekend!

Thursday, January 28, 2010


that's how many times i had to put this little boy back in his bed today during nap time.....

while this little guy screamed his head off..........

my back is broke, and i'm exhausted. there may or may not be a photography tip later today. it may be more like tomorrow depending how the rest of the day goes.

do you think i need to call supernanny?


Wednesday, January 27, 2010

works for me wednesday!


as i was attempting to catch up on reading my blogs today, i came across this fun “works for me wednesday” (WFMW)post from “we are THAT family” blog. since i tend to be “THAT” mom quite a bit, i find peace and comfort reading her posts HA! and we all know i have WAY too many words for wordless wednesdays!

this week’s “WFMW” are just random tips that save you time, money, stress, etc.

my WFMW tip has to do with cooking. i’m not a really big cook, but i like to do organic, healthy, non processed meals 95% of the time. and since my one son is allergic to eggs, we don’t eat out often.

i often dread the cooking part, BUT one thing that REALLY helps me is to buy a pre-cooked rotisserie chicken from costco each week. i always get nervous about cooking chicken since i tend to fear salmonella poisoning with an OCD-like compulsion. so for $5 or so, you can get a freshly cooked chicken from chickens not raised on added hormones—i love it! we use rotisserie chicken to make quesadillas, salads, plain with goat cheese, bbq sandwiches, you name it! for me, it TOTALLY takes the stress out of cooking AND it’s healthy!

i haven’t finished reading all the links yet, but go check them out here and leave me a comment about which one is your favorite!

on a completely separate note, last night i got to spend a few hours with my good friend jeanette (one reason why no blog post, the other was that nugget #2 did not nap yesterday!) and we had so much fun talking about our kids, bible studies, photography and blogs!

jeanette was one of the first people who got me into blogging and i still remember chatting with her about what to name my blog a year and a half ago! ps--i CANNOT believe we didn’t get a picture of us last night, hello we even had a camera with us!

i came away with some much needed girl time, some great photography tips and a new way to write my blog posts using windows live writer (this post is the test drive, but i hear it is SO much easier to write your posts and the download was free!). thanks jeanette for hanging out with me!

Monday, January 25, 2010

meal plan mondays

here's what were are PROBABLY going to be eating this week......things always come up BUT at least we will be prepared to eat the following!

breakfast~kashi-type cheerios, organic flax seed waffles, yogurt and granola

lunch~chicken alphabet soup (with sneaky cauliflower!)--i'm not sure how copyrights work with recipes, but it's from "Deceptively Delicious" which you can purchase HERE.

highly recommend this book for your munchkins!

other lunches this week include the standard issues of PBJ and spaghetti o's (organic).


monday--quesadillas (i use rotisserie chicken from costco--so easy and NO hormones!)
tuesday--tomato bisque soup and grilled cheese. tomato bisque recipe is from HERE.
thursday--salmon and zucchini with parmesean (zucchini recipe is from this cookbook):

friday: burritos made with pork tenderloin in the slow cooker and yummy quacamole! i'll have to share my quacamole recipe in another post--it is SO good! and YES we still have not had burritos--i think it's been on the menu now for like 3 weeks!

saturday--leftovers/pizza and salads

dessert--chocolate chip scones (you can get recipe HERE.)

fruit juice shapes--recipe also from Ina's cookbook above!
what are you eating this week???


Sunday, January 24, 2010

one of THOSE days.....

my weekend started off just fab. friday morning as we were rushing to get out the door to MOPS (and running SERIOUSLY late since everyone including the dogs woke up at some point in the middle of the night all at DIFFERENT times mind you) my dog throws up all over the bathroom floor. luckily it was easy to clean and no big deal.

then one of my best friends calls and asks me to be in her exciting and of course i have to stay on the phone for a little bit to get all the details!!!!

just as i get out of the shower, i hear the fed ex guy knock on the door with some important packages for my mother in law that i may need to sign i answer the door in my bathrobe???? seriosuly, what do you all do? luckily i think my crazy dogs scared him away and he left the packages and was in his truck down the street by the time i had my robe on.

as i'm attempting to put some make up on, my dog throws up AGAIN, this time on the bathroom rug. ugh!!!! it's 9:15 at this point, still no make up and wet hair to dry and MOPS starts at 9:30. AND sick dog is downstairs whining to go outside to probably puke again.

at that point, i voted and won and we stayed in pjs all day and didn't go ANYWHERE. i used to be SO good at getting to places on time but now, whether i have 30 minutes or 3 hours i still can't seem to get it together!

please tell me you all have days like this!

thankfully, bailey (said dog) seems to be doing better. i was worried because she is getting older and one of her former "roommates" who was younger than her just had to be put to sleep last week.

it will be a VERY sad day for us when that time comes. bailey is the epitomy of "man's best friend". she is VERY protective and i have no doubt that this dog would do anything for our family. she can be quite neurotic at times and she's not good with strangers, but she is a great dog and is so loved by all of us!

this weekend we have had "grandmama" in town visiting us, unfortunately she has to work on a big project the rest of her time here. we took advantage of the nice weather yesterday and thank goodness because today was just BLAH!

this little guy is sitting up like a champs these days and is still making me think he's going to start crawling in the very near future YIKES.

and to finish off with something cute parker did yesterday--parker likes to "push the button" and get brandon to lift his legs so he can walk under them. well yesterday, that was a little hard to do because brandon had connor in his lap so when parker went to "push the button", b told him that it was broken. parker goes running off to get his tool kit to "fix" it HA!

here's parker "fixing" daddy's leg :-) he is at a really fun age--i love his imagination and the things he comes up with!

ok, i'm off to plan the menu for the week....pending any major issues tonight, it should be posted tomorrow!


Thursday, January 21, 2010

photog tip thursday--shooting in AV mode

today we are going to be livin' on the edge and talking about shooting outside of the box HA! and by "box" i mean in a mode other than "auto" (the green box).

just a reminder, i'm keeping these posts very basic and they are really meant for a mom who wants to take better pictures of her kids. we will be taking BABY steps each thursday, so if you already know this basic photography information, i apologize for boring you and check back in on fridays!

back to our lesson today....

with a little courage and some tools, one step you can take to improving your pictures is to NOT shoot in automatic. yes i'll admit there are times where i've only got one second to grab a picture of my kids doing something really cute before they move and ruin the moment, and i'll quickly flip to auto, but most of the time i do NOT shoot in "green box" mode. the main reason for this is that in auto the flash will most of the time automatically come on and not give you the best pictures (see post from last thursday).

i have gotten REALLY comfortable shooting in "AV" mode and when i'm really living on the edge i go full throttle and shoot in manual. shooting in manual is where i really learn the most about photography because i can change settings and see what that does to a photograph. i digress......

what IS "AV" mode?

"AV" mode is the mode that puts the "aperture" as the priority. what does that mean? again keeping things simple aperture creates what i call the "magic" in a photograph. it's that crystal clear subject that pops at you with the blury background behind. it is what we all love and adore about the photographs of our children, besides the munchkins themselves!

here's a quick example i could find, but you'll see how my son "pops" from the background and the trees, etc have a blur to them. you can also see how thrilled he is to have his picture taken ha!

how do i get in AV mode?

on my cannon rebel, you simply turn the dial to "AV". you should have this on most SLR cameras i believe and also some point and shoot cameras. check your owner's manual to see how to get into "AV" mode on your particular camera.

i'm in AV mode, now what?

here i am going to speak from my experience with my personal cannon rebel xt since that is what i know best, if you don't have a rebel, your camera probably operates very similarly so this information should at least send you in the right direction.

on my camera, when i am in AV mode, my camera will give me the lowest number aperature given the current lighting conditions and set the shutter speed. for this lesson, just understand that the lower the number of the aperature (this will be determined by the numbers on your lens that have a decimal, mine is f 1.8) the MORE "magic" or blur you will get. so AV mode will get you the best blur your lens can offer in the current conditions you are in.

the one thing you WILL have to set in the mode (at least on my camera) is the ISO. without getting technical at all, when i'm inside with less lighting, i use a higher number (consult your manual to determine how to change the ISO) and when i'm outside i use lower numbers.

homework for the week, follow these steps:

1) learn how to change your mode from "auto" to "AV"

2) learn how to change the ISO on your camera and set it

3) once you can do these two things, take several pictures in AV mode inside using both the highest ISO number your camera will go and the lowest number. compare the differences in the photographs.

4) go outstide and repeat step 3.

5) have fun and don't forget to take chances and take lots of pictures! that's the beauty of digital!


Wednesday, January 20, 2010

i'm SOOOOOOO not ready for this

yes, you are seeing this BABY has been getting up on all fours all day today and rocking back and forth. ok, we JUST started solids, we are NOT ready for crawling. i don't think i can handle it.

yes, you may have noticed that it IS allegedly "wordless wednesdays" and yes i DID post that one of my blogging goals was to do this every wednesday, but lets face it. i am not one who you would classify as "wordless" so let's be honest, "wordless wednesdays" are just NOT for me.

so while i'm sad over the fact that my baby will no longer be as much of a baby anymore, i am pleased with the fact that my 2 year old had THREE helpings of peas last night. he kept requesting more!

AND i'm proud of myself because today after i made a batch of pureed bananas for connor, i had this brilliant idea to make parker a "surprise" with the leftover pureed bananas. i took the pureed bananas and added some other frozen organic fruit and yogurt to my food processor and voila! a healthy smoothie incorporating lots of fuits and since i called it a surprise, parker was ALL ABOUT IT! i'll be honest, this was SLIGHTLY deceiving on my part since he thought he was getting some sort of sugary treat, but hey it worked and i felt like i should receive the mom of the hour award....that was until nap time hit and i found some special  STUFF all over parker's room. oh well, there's always tomorrow.........


Tuesday, January 19, 2010

lemonade stand award!!!!!

so my friend aimee who writes a BEAUTIFUL blog called women's marriage ministry nominated me for this award.....

i am BEYOND excited!!!! can you tell? thank you so much aimee for the nomination--you totally made my day!

you definitely want to check out aimee's blog, seriously you don't want to miss it. it is AWESOME!

anyways, now it's my turn to nominate some blogs that are meaningful to me. there are really SO MANY good blogs out there, but here are the ones that i read regularly that really speak to me during this phase of my life:

** Rules for the Award **

* Put the Lemonade Logo on your blog or in your blog post
* Nominate at least 10 blogs with a great attitude or gratitude
* Link Nominees to your post
* Let your nominees know about their award by leaving them a comment on their blog
* Share the Love & link to the person from whom you received the award

enjoy checking out some of my most FAVORITE blogs....they truly are my daily inspiration!


Monday, January 18, 2010

meal plan monday

here's what we are going to ATTEMPT to eat this week HA! you'll see that a few things are from last week :-) BUT the beauty of a flexible plan is that i am at least already prepared with ingredients for those meals!

monday--we ended up ordering in since my parents are still here

tuesday--spaghetti and meatballs

wednesday--chicken stir fry

thursday--leftovers (i'm meeting up with girlfriends at pf changs!)

friday--burritos with slow cooked pork tenderloin (these are SO GOOD)

breakfasts for the week--yogurt and granola, cheerios, peanut butter toast and oatmeal

lunches--same old faves....PBJ, organic spaghetti o's, smoothies and cheese and crackers

special treat--chocolate chip scones...i'm going to try out this recipe HERE.

i'm also going to attempt to serve more veggies and fruit for snacks this week....i never do a good job of this during the winter!

and a question for all of you ever make meals and freeze them? if so, what are some good recipes that freeze well????


Sunday, January 17, 2010

date night and teddy bear

guess who came to town?

yay for free babysitters.....i mean grandparents!!! so hubs and i got to go on a date night to see the blind side. i loved it! and i stayed awake--one of the main reasons i have not been to a movie theater in two years HA!

this could be another reason :-)

this little guy has been sitting up longer and longer on his own. i mean we MAY be up to 10 seconds! he's also starting to look a LOT like his big brother. b and i were going through old pictures and while the are some noticeable differences, parker and connor do look a lot like brothers which i love!

and this little teddy bear:

she will take ANY attention she can get these days. this is mollie, my 45 pound lap dog. i never had a dog growing up and always wanted one that was like a big stuffed animal that could sleep with me. well that came true just about 3 years ago when mollie joined our family. until the munchkins came along, she used to snuggle right up next to me each night. now she just attempts to get in my lap any chance she can!

hope you are having a great weekend!


Friday, January 15, 2010

show us your life--diets, exercise programs and ideas

today is show us your life friday (SUYL) which i will be participating in every friday with kelly.

currently i'm not really on any sort of exercising program except chasing two little boys HA! but as you may or may not have read from my 2010 goals post, i want to get back into a routine. for me, i LOVE routine. i find both comfort and confidence when i have a schedule and can stick to it. it's hard though to find that when your day is constantly dictated by everyone else's schedules, and then of course someone's sick or teething so that just REALLY throws us off!

but this week i have started back and i'm loving it. the other day i went to the gym and just ran/walked for 20 minutes on the treadmill. and just doing that little bit, i felt SO MUCH better and energized.

so my biggest tip is to just start with small goals and get comfortable with those before increasing them. for me, if i start out too big, i find myself giving up because it's A LOT harder to find 60 minutes of time than it is to find 20 minutes.

the other thing that helped me was investing in a double jogging stroller. this way i'm getting the kids outside AND even if i just walk, pushing 100 pounds burns A LOT of calories! has great free tools as well!

good luck!


Thursday, January 14, 2010

photog tip thursday--lighting

thought i wouldn't post on this today did you? yes this is my THIRD post for the day (be sure to check out the other two!), but i really want to keep up with these blog posts and hold myself accountable to keep up with my photography goals.

again, i am just a mom with a camera with a passion to capture each memory in a photograph--i'm still learning and i'd love to help inspire you to get out your camera and capture some great pics of your own munchkins!

today i wanted to talk about lighting. lighting differentiates a good picture from a bad picture. if the lighting is not good, it really doesn't matter what kind of camera or lens you have or photo editing software.

the biggest thing you can do to drastically change your photos TODAY is to NEVER use a flash. using a flash distorts colors, images, causes shadows, etc and basically takes away everything you LOVE about good photographs.

what does this mean? it means that you need to either a) get outside for your photo shoot (ideal) or b) if you want/have to shoot inside you need to switch your camera out of "automatic" mode. if you are in "auto" mode, 9.5 times out of 10 it will NOT be light enough for your flash not to automatically pop up.

because i want to keep these posts relatively short and sweet and VERY basic, tonight i'm just going to focus on solving the flash issue by shooting outside.

the best outdoor lighting you can use is an overcast day because the clouds diffuse the natural sunlight. you don't have to deal with direct sunlight issues and the lighting works great with skin tones. if it's not overcast out, you can still find great lighting conditions. you want to place your subject in the shade and you want to be in the sunlight.

try it out and experiment. take some pictures inside with the flash on and then go take some pictures outside and compare. it doesn't even matter what you are taking a picture of (it could be a leaf or a cup of water!) but you will see what a TREMENDOUS difference not using flash will make.

you can see from my examples--the picture above is taken outside with no flash and i didn't even edit the photo in photoshop, and below is a pic i took inside using "auto" mode with auto flash. you can see how much it changes the colors and skin tones.

next week, i'll address how to shoot inside without using a flash, ie shooting in a mode other than "auto".


wednesday recap....still catching up on blogging

since i'm doing multiple posts today to catch up from earlier in the week, be sure to scroll down and see all of the new posts!

yesterday we had a fun morning at our friends house. allie is one of my best friends and she has two adorable little girls kate and ellie reese close in age to my two boys. yesterday we discussed arranged marriages for the kids so we can stop just stop worrying if any boy/girl will ever be good enough for precious children!

allie and i don't get to catch up nearly enough anymore since there always seems be something coming up, usually someone's sick. so yesterday was great to finally get together!

allie was so sweet to make parker and kate pancakes (with no egg of course!)

kate (aka "pinky" with her pink cast) eating yummy pancakes! she is parker's best friend---they play so well together!

parker usually gets some sort of "accessory" when we visit their house :-)

ellie reese.....such a cutie

allie was also kind to let me use precious elle as a model for sassycakes new birthday outift:
isn't she just presh? sorry boys she is TAKEN!!!

the tutu was so full that she had to crawl like this HA!

notice how i don't have any pics of connor yet---yeah, well he spit up ALL OVER his cute outfit for the day so i had to change him into this onesie for the morning that he had outgrown...elle didn't seem to mind though :-)

she still thinks he's pretty cute.....

connor was a little nervous about what elle's dad would think......

but then miss allie said it was OK so they were both happy......

because they got to hold hands. but that is IT. nothing more until their wedding night HA!

thanks for having us over girls.....we had a great time!