If there’s anything I can tell you about having kids, having had five myself, it is that nothing seems to go as planned. And as far as plans are concerned, this may never end, no matter how old they get. I’d like to introduce to you some of my awesome clients. This is Jen and Junior. (Cute right?!? Even saying their names has a sweet little jingle to it.) I met Jen quite some years back when she was having her first son, who is now almost 11. I reached out to Jen and Junior and their sweet little family of 5 right when they found out they were expecting again. I was looking for a family to photograph for some marketing materials. Later down the road, when I hosted my first photography workshop, I immediately thought of them as my model family. Her styled maternity session was perfect. (You can see those photos HERE). I was so excited when they asked me to be a part of their birth story and also take their newborn photos. Remember when I said nothing goes as planned when you have kids?? Well this is a story to confirm just that. Read more
Can you believe a month has already passed and our new theme is out?! This month flew by, and has been very exhausting for me. I am so pleased to announce the new Share Six theme is Water! We had a lot of fun with this one. As a mother of five, we are always looking for inexpensive ways to keep our littles entertained. We don’t dine out often or even take the whole brood to the movies. As you can imagine, it adds up fast. After moving from an acre to a small neighborhood lot, my kids crave open spaces even more. When thinking of how to share this months theme, the idea became clear with our rising temperatures. (We are already hitting 90+ degrees!) Lets go “live in a van… down by the river” Ok, maybe not live. We did however pack the van pretty tight with 3 inflated tubes, one inflated row boat, an ice chest, chairs, and 5 little boys. It was a tad cramped to say the least. Read more
I was recently approached about joining a blog circle for photographers. I have participated in this group before, just not as a blog contributor. Just for fun, and for the love of photography. Share Six is a spin off from Sharetographers. We will be sharing six images on the 6th of each month. Those photos will be our own creative interpretation of a monthly theme. This is a great opportunity for me to be held accountable to blogging more. And moreover, I get to be creative and take pretty pictures. Here is my take on this months theme, and I apologize for its lateness. I am currently out of town and have been having issues with super slow internet. Read more
So as some of you already know, we have moved and are in the middle of a renovation. It’s funny to see comments (after I have posted something on social media) from friends saying things like, “I can’t wait to come over”. Or, “how exciting, I bet that’s so much fun!”. Friends, family, strangers that follow me, …. this is not exactly what you call “fun“. Here are some shots inside my construction zone that are carefully and masterfully staged. I am going to give you what I’m calling the “Pull back, home tour”. I am sharing some of those pretty pictures… again. Then I am going to pull the camera lens back and let you see what it actually looks like. Stay with me. Read more
In honor of my third up coming workshop I thought I should at least showcase some of my favorite bits from most recent spring photography workshop. I hosted my second workshop in the late spring this year. This workshop was on a much smaller scale offering more time to really answer any questions in full detail without feeling like I might not be giving other individuals the time they needed as well. You can see a big difference in color scheme and over all theme here, which I was really excited about. I love bright, rich colors and textures. This was a stretch for my dear gal pal Paige from The Love Designed Life, you can read more about that HERE. She goes into detail about how she masterfully thought and brought to life this amazing table-scape. Her florals were purchased from Arizona Flower Market.
Before I go into detail about the workshop, I want to comment about how truly important it is to me to support small business, local small business whenever I can. Shopping local means not only are we keeping money in our communities, we are helping feed the families of those business owners, helping them pay their electricity bills, and encouraging them to continue to follow their passions. Sure, I can buy a lot of things from big box stores, and surely I do, but I spend quite a bit of money in my community, in the surrounding communities, and in Arizona in general. One of our local vendors for our most recent workshop was Mamas Cold Brew Coffee company. Check them out, Jennifer the owner is amazing and I have developed such a great relationship with her and her company. We worked out a trade, coffee for my attendee’s for family portraits to be taken this fall. I will share those when they are all complete.
We also found a local baker who made the most delectable donuts you ever did taste! Big and rich and flavorful, what more could you ask for? Grano de vida is so tasty. We purchased them from The Simple Farm. Lylah, is a beautiful local caramel maker who is a huge advocate for creatives and makers all over the valley. You can read about her goat farm HERE.
In addition to the perfect pairing of coffee and donuts, I added in some of my own homemade fixin’s. Fresh guacamole and heirloom tomato pico de gallo. Alright, alright, that’s the jist of some of the amazing parts of attending one of my workshops. There is soooo much that happens behind the scenes to put a workshop on. I want to create a workshop that both attendee’s and small businesses want to be a part of. Bringing together community, business, and art. Now let’s get into some of the teaching portion of my workshops.
This picture is exactly the same… or is it? Which one do you like better? This lesson was all about depth of field. You control your depth of field by changing your Aperture in your manual settings. Depth of field is the amount of subjects or objects in your image/composite that are in focus. You can change depth of field to create more stunning and powerful images by adjusting aperture to a higher or lower number. A lower aperture (also known as f/stop) means your lens is open wider, creating a smaller depth of field. This is great for portraits. A higher aperture or f/stop creates a larger depth of field, resulting in more subjects/objects in focus. An example of when a higher aperture is required is Landscape photography. You would need as large of aperture your lens will offer you.
Now that we have covered aperture, which photo was taken with a larger Aperture? The left or the right???
If you guessed the right, you are correct! The photo on the left was taken at an aperture of 2.8, the photo on the right was taken at an aperture of 10.
To learn more about shooting in manual mode, stay tuned for my up coming workshop schedule!
This is an example of what a practice set up looks like. The areas are designed with the attendees in mind, spacious areas with multiple pretty things to photograph. Each attendee has room to shoot and then share some of their images with myself and others. We compliment each other and help each other achieve the lighting and focus we set out to.
In my workshops we cover the four key components to shooting in manual mode; ISO, aperture, shutter speed, and white balance. Let’s be honest folks, having full control of your images saves you so much more time in the long run. No more long nights trying to fix things in some free or cheap editing programs, no more masking your color problems with Instagram filters, and no more wondering why your kid isn’t in focus but the pile of laundry right behind them is clear as a blue sky!
Oh, and I have some pretty awesome giveaways. I like to keep things exciting. This last item won is a personal favorite of mine. One that I use almost daily. It was an EyeFi SD card. It transfers your images to any smart device immediately using internal wifi.
This last photo is a taste of what’s to come in Part 2 of this post. This little Romper is featured in the live shoot out we conduct at the end of each workshop. Each attendee gets to see me in action with a perfectly styled family, by The Love Designed Life. There is time to ask questions, see the images on the back of my camera. Learn to pose families, and much much more!
Weekend adventure time with Mr. Fox. Mr. Fox is a good behavior tool used in my son’s kindergarten class. And, as some of you know, my son is really having a hard time accepting this new life as a big time school boy. 90% of the time he just can’t stand thinking about school or talking about school. He can be quite the grump. But last Wednesday he came home telling me one of the kids in class told him “that I juss always bees quiet so maybe Mr. Fox will come home with me”. It was the most tender moment I’ve had with him about school since it started. Low and behold, Friday after school he gets off the bus gleaming from ear to ear. I was thinking, finally this kid had a good day. Then when he came inside he pulled Mr. Fox from his backpack and was too excited for words. So let us share with you our Adventure time with Mr. Fox.
First things first, Mr. Fox got to take a bus ride with Brooks. We had a pretty busy schedule, but it was no problem, Mr. Fox didn’t have any objections to running our errands with us. Brooks on the other hand, was a little concerned about Mr. Fox’s safety and cleanliness. I eased his worries and let him know we’d take extra special care of Mr. Fox while he was with us. Off to our adventures we went.
We started our Friday out by heading to Famous footwear, Beau and Braden both needed new running shoes for cross country. While the older boys delicately picked out the perfect sneaks for maximum running capabilities, Brooks and Bennett enjoyed a bit of hide and seek. More like, hide and hang half way out of the empty shelves, but it was still fun.
Next up on the to-dos was Target. Brooks, although a giant for his age, is the youngest and suffers from a severe case of entitlement. I guess we have all just catered too him this long, and if he didn’t get the answer he wanted the first four times, he had another two attempts to get his way. This method has worked well for him. Thus, you see the boy can no longer walk, he wants to ride in the basket. And for the sake of just getting in and out of the store, I boost this kid as high as my t-rex arms allow and literally have to coach him into the cart. Even though the cart was his idea. It is insane. But sometimes I need to just keep the peace. Target didn’t have what I was looking for so this trip was short lived. But we didn’t leave empty handed, the boys each picked out some gum. And the world was saved.
Saturday morning Brooks and Mr. Fox woke up early and we headed out to Coolidge to watch the older boys run in their cross country race. Maybe Mr. Fox spread some good luck to Brady, or maybe it was his new kicks, but Brady beat Beau for the first time in a race! It was exciting. Or maybe Brady won because he had a bribe planted in his head from the boss. Something along the lines of “if you beat Beau in a race, I’ll buy you anything you want from QT… Anything”…
After the cross country meet, Mr. Fox joined us in the celebration of my 33rd birthday. Mr. Fox was happy to be in the picture, but Mr. Brooks, well not so much.
Sunday was a pretty uneventful day. Brooks and Mr. Fox played outside, jumped on the trampoline, played connect four, and minecraft. By the days end, Mr. Fox took a sunset ride in the wagon along the backyard sidewalk courtesy of Braden and Bennett.
I’d say Mr. Fox had a pretty good weekend. I am really hoping that these small adventures are something Brooks will hold on to when he’s feeling down about school and the tiny pressures of a 5 year old in kindergarten. I also hope that he will remember these little moments fondly as an adult. I treasure the times I get to watch my children simply enjoying being little, using their imagination, and not thinking twice about the worlds opinion around them.
This DIY easy gummy bears recipe is so easy a kid could do it. (As featured here) I found an awesome YouTube video last week and knew I needed to try this out. Sometimes when I see things and think, hey now… I can do that, I end up being the butt of the joke. What seems like an easy project ends up being like I really needed to possess the skills and steady hands of a heart surgeon. Well, luckily for all us DIY parents, this was not one of those projects. This was so simple, my five year old did most of the work today as we made our second batch.
The ingredients are simple.
Some silicone molds
2 Gelatin packets
1 small package of flavored Jello
1/4 cup of light corn syrup
1/2 cup COLD water
I had to share the picture of my son’s hand. It was just too cute. Imagine little ole me, standing on a table chair trying to get all my ingredients perfectly in frame for the picture then my photo bombing son with his booger picking finger sliding in at the very last second to shout as loud as possible “mom, what’s this?!?!?” . And no, my son is too much of a germaphobe to actually pick his nose.
To get started combine your corn syrup with your cold water. Really make sure your water is cold, it makes a difference in your later steps.
Once all your corn syrup is completely dissolved in your cold water, pour it into a sauce pan. Do not turn the heat on at this point.
With your burner OFF, add your dry ingredients, your small package of jello and your two packets of gelatin, and mix well. The cold water helps the gelatin dissolve. Once its looking clear, go ahead and turn your burner on medium to medium low. I have a gas stove top so I needed to keep mine on medium low because my burners get really hot.
You will heat your gummy mixture for about 5-10 minutes, I waited until I saw tiny pre-boiling bubbles.
Once it hit that “pre-boiling” point I transferred my gummy mixture to a separate container. This is what separates the girls from the women. As the gummy solution starts to cool, the bubbles and any foam that came from your mixture rises to the top. After about 15 minute’s you can scrape off the pleasantries for a perfectly clear gummy solution. You could just go straight to the molds but the foam will end up being on the backs of your chewy candies. Thus raising questions like, “mommy, why it there nasty squish on my gummies??” or “mom, I have to eat my gummies rear first so no one see’s this foamy madness…”.
Once you have a semi cooled gummy solution, for best molding results, pour into a condiment bottle. I picked up a few at Walmart for .97 cents each. They make it so much easier to get the solution into your molds without over filling or spilling everywhere.
Once you have them in the molds, let them sit for at least 5 hours. And if you have the patience, just let them sit over night. If you unmold them too soon, they are quite tacky and stick to your hands like crazy. Washing your hands off frequently helps, but its super annoying.
Here are some shots of our awesomely fun easy DIY gummy bears and lego guys.
Here is the youtube video I saw that inspired all of this.
So I am already getting questions about my photo on social media. Boxed Wholesale…. what’s that?? I am here to answer your questions, give you some details and a boxed wholesale review. (This is my first order mind you.)
I found Boxed Wholesale through social media, it was a little Facebook ad. It was catchy enough to get my attention so I deliberately clicked on it to see what it was all about. (I say deliberately because I suffer from compulsive thumb disorder. That’s when your thumbs decide when to open an add shortly after your mind decided to X it out.) I thought, alright this seems like a pretty good deal for some of the things I frequent my local Walmart for. I am not a Walmart hater like many I know. I honestly do about 90% of all my grocery and home goods shopping there. I always feel like I am saving money when I go there. Saving money is important to me. Because, well… you know, we have a family of seven. I don’t shop much at Costco or Sam’s club anymore either, its just not close. Convenience is also important to me to. So now that we got the key points out of the way, savings and convienience, let’s talk about why I went with Boxed Wholesale. FREE SHIPPING! Just so you know, there is a minimum order amount required for free shipping (but your first order always ships for free). But for me, this isn’t a problem. Just imagine how much we have to spend to feed this big ole family. Yea, the grocery bill ain’t pretty folks. Before I just jumped on this boxed wagon I actually compared prices with Walmart online. And I was going to be saving. So, saving money, saving time, and I don’t even have to put on real people pants to shop. Hello dream come true! I didn’t order a ton of stuff because I had done my shopping the Friday before I placed my order.
Here’s what my first order of biznasss looked like.
Maybe some of you are thinking, that really doesn’t look like a lot of stuff for $89 bucks. Well these are giants. Definitely more like Costco sized stuff here. Take a good look at that double Nutella, go ahead, nod and smile. Its HUGE!
Back to the Boxed Wholesale details. I placed my order Sunday 8/30/15. The standard delivery is two business days. My order arrived today. So they met their quota. My shipment came via FedEx. (GASP!) If there is anything different they could be doing, it would be shipping UPS. This box was really heavy, I kind of wish I would have weighed it. I can’t say that I am impressed with the packaging. There was a big puncture in the top of the box and the side was splitting open. But I won’t hold that against them, like I said this was a pretty heavy box. I blame FedEx.
The big reveal. I love getting shipments. I don’t even care what it is. Once you’re an adult and really start adulting, having fun just isn’t what is used to be.
So there you have it folks. Boxed Wholesale be sure you check them out. I know I will be ordering again.
If you have questions about the order process, please leave them in the comments! I would also love to hear your boxed wholesale stories!
I personally invite you to try Boxed Wholesale. Using this code A7DKI you will get a $15 credit just for signing up!
Eggplant is one of my favorite vegetables. There was a questionnaire going around on facebook not long ago, encouraging you to ask a series of questions to your children about their mother. One of those questions was “What’s mom’s favorite food”, and one of my kids lit up like an idea bulb and said, “I know, Eggplant”. It’s true, and if you follow me on social media, its a known fact. I have often posted pictures of eggplant dishes I have made, and I am always on the hunt for new ways to make it. In case you didn’t know, there are at least 14 varieties of Eggplant. There’s possibly more, those are the ones that I know of.
The American eggplant most commonly sold in grocery stores are one of the bitterest as well. Odd isn’t it? There are other types that I have grown (literally and figuratively) to love. Those include Thai eggplant and Chinese eggplant. I have also grown American and white eggplant in my garden. I found that I love the sweetness of white eggplant, but the skin is incredibly tough. This year my Chinese eggplant has really done well. A little too well, as I have this abundance of eggplant and sometimes we just don’t eat it fast enough. I’d give it away, but people don’t exactly line up for eggplant. (Ahem, if you are a local friend and you want some, let me know, I’ll share)
Today, like most days, I look down at my watch and realize I’m starving because I haven’t eaten anything all day and it’s already 2pm. And like most days, I go to the fridge hoping that magically something new has appeared and I will rejoice in its flavorful delights. That part never happens. But hey, I am ever so hopeful. Upon todays cold box wishing I sighed at the ugly eggplant that was starting to wilt because; a) I like my fridge icy cold, b) its been in there awhile. Still eatable, just doesn’t look as pretty as it does the day I pick it. I tend to pick them early when the plant is young. It helps the overall production of fruit.
I proceeded to do what most people do in this “what do I eat” madness…. I went to pinterest. My first thought was that I was going to make some sort of burger out of this sad looking eggplant. Then I stumbled across this eggplant meatball recipe by Skinny Taste, and well I was intrigued. As I started pulling things out to make it I realized I didn’t have everything this particular recipe called for, but don’t worry… I am full of ambition and made some minor life altering decisions. No body died so its good.
Let’s get started on what you’ll need.
1.5 lbs of any variety of eggplant you prefer, I used Chinese eggplant.
2 tbsp. olive oil
1/2 cup cooked quinoa
1/2 cup almond flour
1/2 parm cheese
3 whole garlic cloves
2 tsp garlic powder
3 tbsp. of parsley flakes
1 tsp salt
few dashes of pepper
1 beaten egg
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.
Step 1. Dice your eggplant into small bite size pieces. Combine eggplant bites with olive oil, whole garlic cloves, 1 tsp garlic powder, 1 tbsp. of parsley flakes and mix. Take a cookie sheet and spray it with cooking spray. Then toss your bites onto the sheet. Place in your preheated oven and bake until tender, mine took about 20 minutes.
Step 2. While your bites are roasting in the oven, cook your quinoa per package directions. Its typically a 1:2 ratio, so for half a cup of quinoa you’ll need to boil 1 cup of water. I added a little butter to my quinoa, just out of habit I suppose.
Step 3. Once your bites are done you will need to chop them up in a food processor or blender. You don’t want them to become too mushy. So pulse them to keep them somewhat coarse. Using the same bowl you seasoned your eggplant bites, add the chopped up slightly mushy bites with the cooked quinoa, beaten egg and the remaining ingredients. Make sure everything is evenly mixed.
Step 4. Re-spray your cookie sheet and roll out your eggplant (meatless) meatballs into approximately 2 inches wide balls. Return to oven and bake for 30 minutes.
I wasn’t really sure how these were going to taste, but they were amazing! Amazeballs if you will. I plan to make these again and again. The originally recipe called for white beans and whole wheat bread crumbs. Since I used quinoa and almond flour instead, they had a bit of crunchy to them. I do plan to try it with bread crumbs and white beans. I almost used chick peas, but didn’t want to bother with shelling them. If you are a vegetarian you can of course omit the egg or substitute with flax seed.
I loved them. Also, they have been kid tested and kid approved. That’s a win in my book.
Seriously, this is one of my all time favorite summer side dishes. I learned to make this at a very young age, helping my grandmother in the kitchen. Like my grandma, I tend to just throw stuff in and hope it works out. I very rarely measure things while I am cooking so I will do the best I can to guestimate these measurements. This dish has also become a family favorite, and summer tradition. We garden here, and usually try and grow our own squash. This summer was exceptionally hot and my squash plants didn’t make it. Thank the gods for farmers markets! This time around, as I was making this tutorial, my niece was over and she got to learn the process as well. I hope to continue to pass this easy recipe down the family line. Because, well, it’s just that good.
There are very few things you need to make this easy side dish, most of which you likely already have on hand. So here is my Grandma’s fried yellow squash recipe. Let me know if you make it and how it turned out!
1 cup of Yellow corn meal
1/2 cup All purpose flour
2 tsp Salt
few dashes of Pepper
3-4 tablespoons Olive or Vegetable oil
4 tbsp Unsalted butter
Step 1: Beat those eggs in a bowl like you mean it.
Step 2: Slice up your squash like you really mean it.
Step 3: Add your sliced squash to your egg mixture, making sure each slice has a nice little egg bath and set aside. (You can do that one like you just don’t care.)
Step 4: Combine your dry ingredients well in a separate bowl, and smile for the camera.
Step 5: Heat your skillet and add your oil. I used olive oil this time, but I normally like to use vegetable oil because it doesn’t burn as quickly as olive oil does. If your olive oil gets to toasty, it effects the flavor. Not that anyone would complain, but when it happens to me, its hard not to finish my meal without some serious stink eye at the plate. (Hashtag megafoodsnob)
Step 6: Add your butter to the top of your squash and cover, checking every few minutes. As it starts to brown you’ll turn it carefully. I say carefully because my flipping skills are somewhat over aggressive causing squash to fly all over the kitchen…. Notice that I did this outside? That’s preventative measures in action. Also, sometimes it does get smoky from the olive oil.
Serve right away, I usually add a tad more salt, basically to offset how genuinely sweet I already am… Just kidding, my family loves salt. (Hashtag goiterfreefamily)
Like I mentioned earlier, this is a recipe I got from my grams as a young girl. Some things she did wildly different than me. She used a paper grocery bag to mix her dry ingredients, then it always got nice and sloppy when she added the squash covered in egg. She would shake it violently and masterfully because each squash came out perfectly coated. She also used what seemed like a pound of butter. I tried that method early on in my marriage and the bag busted, and well, I never tried that again.
Hope you enjoyed this recipe and picture tutorial! If you have a similar recipe leave it in the comments! Or if you give this a try let me know what you think!
Photo Credit: Braden Hansen & Jill Hansen