Parmesan Chicken Recipe‎

Chicken Parmesan Recipe

This is one of our all time favorites. Its simple and always a hit. My parmesan chicken recipe can be used to make chicken tenders as well as breaded eggplant or eggplant parmesan.

Chicken Parmesan Ingreditents

Ingredients for chicken:
Chicken Breast 1.5-2lbs defrosted
1/2 cup parmesan Cheese
1 cup of Italian bread crumbs
3 tbsps of extra virgin olive oil
1 egg

Cut chicken breast in half

Because I try and create budget friendly meals to feed my army, I tend to cut my chicken breast in half by width. I started doing this to eliminate food waste in my home. My younger kids have a hard time eating an entire piece, and it cooks much faster this way. I call that a double win! If you prefer to have a larger piece of meat, you can always pound your meat out to keep the time down. I also trim any excess fat.

Cut all your pieces and set aside to make your breading.

Bread crumbs, parmesan and one egg

For this recipe I used one cup of Italian bread crumbs and 1/2 cup of parmesan cheese. You’ll need two separate bowls, one medium sized bowl for the breading and one small bowl for one egg.

bread crumbs, parm, salt and pepper

Combine your bread crumbs and cheese.

add salt and pepper and mix

Add salt and pepper to taste. I didn’t measure that part. Sorry folks.

Be sure to mash up all those cheese clumps that sneak their way into your breading. Mix it well so you keep that delicious flavor even to the taste buds. They’ll thank you periodically throughout your meal. Trust me. (wink and a handgun)

wisk egg and coat your chicken

Wisk your egg in the small bowl and give your pieces of chicken a well deserved egg wash. I feel like this could be the start of a cooking joke. What do you call a chicken who bathes in their own beaten egg…. And for anyone that comes up with an awesome punch line, I will reward you with a gift card to starbucks. Or a dozen fresh eggs, your pick.

add oil to sautee

Heat your olive oil on medium, be sure you have all the former steps ready. If you over heat your oil, you’ll ruin the flavor. AND you’ll smoke up your kitchen. I have only heard of these things. Its not like its happened to me or anything.

10

Turn when dark golden brown

Add your chicken to your heated oil and brown on both sides. I like mine to get a dark golden brown. Because once it starts to bake, it will seal in the juices and add some crisp. Once you get your chicken browning you can start in on your marinara.

Marinara sauce ingredients

Ingredients for Marinara sauce:
One 15 oz can of tomato sauce
One 6 oz can of tomato paste
Garlic power
Italian seasoning
Seasoned salt
Paprika

Ok so this recipe here is the exact same thing I use for my pizza sauce, and dipping sauce for cheese sticks, and basically any other time I need marinara. However it is not my spaghetti sauce recipe. That is just a little different.

making marinara

Combine sauce and paste into a bowl. I didn’t measure the seasoning either but I’m going to give you some guesstimates. Roughly a 1/4 tsp of both garlic powder and seasoned salt. 1/2 tsp of Italian seasoning, and about an 1/8 tsp of paprika. Mix well. The reason I use the paste for this dish is because it keeps the breading from getting soggy when its baking. I use the entire can of paste. This is just what I’ve come up with over the years and found to work best on both chicken and eggplant parmesan. You can always be a sell out and just buy a can of marinara, but where’s the fun in that?!

add marinara to breaded chicken

Add a little of your sauce to each piece of chicken and top with shredded mozzarella cheese.

bake chicken parmesan for 15 minutes

Bake at 400 degrees for about 15 minutes.

bake chicken parmesan for 15 minutes at 400

And there you have it! Mouth watering chicken parmesan. I would say the prep time for this was about 20 minutes. That includes the breading, browning, and the marinara. So you’re looking a 30-45 minute meal here. It took me a tad longer tonight because my camera man was running into some focusing issues. (My 10 year old son).

chicken parmesan made simple

If you try this recipe out, please let me know how it went! Also, if you come up with a killer punch line to my lame cooking joke… I am a woman of my word and will honor your reward!

Life Created Workshop

Not long ago I posted about an amazing urban goat farm I came across and visited. Well after immediately falling in love with the farm, I began to follow her unique story. Lylah is truly a giver, she gives to those she loves, she gives to her animals, she gives to her community, and now she has begun yet another giving adventure, she is giving to the creative spirits of the world. She has collaborated with many other talented local artists and makers to bring to all of us The Create Series . And as soon as I saw what she was doing, I knew I needed to be a part of it. With many of my own personal projects on the horizon I needed to be selective about which one I could attend. And with my endless love of learning and my passion for photography my choice was pretty clear. Introduction to food photography, put together simply and beautifully by Life Created. Stephanie is a natural light photography with a serious eye for still life and styling. I have also been following her through social media for quite some time now. I can appreciate the art in styling, and I am sure you all know that from all the collaborations I have done with my dear friend and designer Paige with The Love Designed Life . I knew I needed this food photography workshop for two reasons… 1: I love food and to create lovely inspiring recipes. 2: I have absolutely no game when it comes to styling or staging. Now to me, those are pretty vital pieces to the blogging pie I hope to master sometime this year. So here are some photos from the workshop. Stephanie did such an amazing job staging the table and covering all things necessary to show casing food and still life to the fullest. I will share a few things I picked up in the workshop, but encourage you aspiring photographers to take one of her workshops as well! I won’t give away all her secrets so hopefully that entices you to sign up with her soon, she fills spaces quickly!

Life Created Workshop

Life Created Food Photography Workshop

One of the key things I took away from her workshop is color. Keep it simple folks. Neutrals help allow the food or the entrée steal the show. Have some great go to props to include in your photos, ones that don’t shout out “look at me… I’m in like half the photos”. These things can be but are not limited to; napkins, wooden cutting boards, large bowls or plates, and serving ware.

Food Photography Workshop at The Simple Farm

Another key learning for me was not to over think it. Its ok to have a few short cuts. If you only have a few good looking berries, stuff something under them in the bowl to make it look like you have dozens of perfect berries spilling out of your quaint little vintage bowl. I know that seems like its not a huge “Ah Ha” moment. But for me it was. I can personally attest to not taking a picture because I thought I didn’t have enough of something. Ummm, hashtag PefectionistProblems!

Life Created Tablescape

The last take away I’d like to share with you all is be true to yourself. Don’t sit and compare yourself to others all the time. And please don’t just try and recreate what others have created before you. That of course makes so much sense to me as a portrait photographer, but what a thing to say when it comes to still life and food photography. Are there really that many ways to stage a bowl of strawberries? Yes, there are. And as a photographer every snap you share with others, you are sharing a bit of your creative passion. Be kind enough to be authentic with each and every thing you do. If you do that, you’ll do great. I hope you love the images and tips from this awesome workshop! There is always something that can be learned if you are willing to listen. I am so grateful to have attended this workshop and finally meet a photographer I have looked up to, and of course just be at The Simple Farm and see Lylah.

If you’d like to see what a portrait session looks like at The Simple Farm stop over at The Love Designed Life and check out my recent session with Paige and her family. They are expecting their third baby, and I am always blown away at Paige’s visions.

Share Six – May Theme – Floral

Share Six – May theme – Floral. This months theme kind of stumped me, at first I thought I would buy some flowers, stage them and take pretty pictures. But to be honest, I really didn’t want to buy flowers, because I really hate that they die. I like receiving flowers, but those die too. Then I thought, perhaps I will buy some flowers and plant them. And then I remembered all the times I have planted flowers, only to see them die. You get the idea here… flowers come to me to die. I am basically the flower reaper. As this was adding up in my mind, and not at all in a pretty way, I almost let the theme pass. (Kinda like how I dropped the ball on last months theme “Tasty”, I could have done a lot with that one too!) But I didn’t, and I am sure glad that I made it a point to participate.

I did not do all of my growing up in the desert. I spend my childhood years roaming my neighborhood playing hide and go seek or roller hockey amongst the most beautiful tree’s. The grass was green, there were four seasons, and flowers survived, everywhere. (Greeley, CO) It was grand. I have never really loved living in AZ. Its hot, like a lot. But now that I have become a photographer, I have finally learned to love the desert and its landscape. And certainly can appreciate the flora of the hot dry desert.

Just for fun, I have added my camera settings. All photos were shot with a canon 5D Markiii.

Jumping Cholla
100mm 2.8 Macro: F/2.8 1/100 ISO:1000

Fishhook cactus
50mm 1.2: F/2.8 1/2500 ISO:400

Palo Verde
100mm 2.8 Macro: F/2.8 1/100 ISO:1000

Jumping Cholla Blossum
100mm 2.8 Macro: F/2.8 1/125 ISO:1000

Dying
100mm 2.8 Macro: F/2.8 1/100 ISO:1000

Prickly Pear Cactus
100mm 2.8 Macro: F/2.8 1/60 ISO:3200

Here are some fun out takes from our family hike at San Tan Regional Park, that where I took these lovely desert photos.

Family Hike

Pot Roast Perfection

“Do I smell a  pot roast???” Any one seen Diary of a wimpy kid? Well this is a line off the movie, one that I hear anytime I am making a Pot Roast, Said by Brady.

A tried and true family favorite. And honestly one that is thoughtless and time saving. I have to admit, I don’t care for a lot of red meat. But if, and when I do decide to put it on the table for dinner… it’s often in the form of a roast. I have tried to make roast in many different ways. And of course, just as the coined phrase goes, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. This is the way I was taught to make a roast when I was a teen. It’s simple, tasty, and takes little time and attention.

Ingrediants to the perfect pot roast

Here’s what you’ll need:
A nice chuck or rump roast (Thawed)
Extra virgin olive oil
Garlic Powder
Seasoned Salt
Black Pepper
Head of garlic
A few large carrots
A large sautéing pan
A large crock pot
Some beef stock

(These ingredients are major staples in my cooking: garlic powder, seasoned salt.)

So to get started add a few tablespoons of olive oil to your sauté pan and heat on medium high. Season the roast generously with the garlic powder and seasoned salt, and lightly dash some pepper. Be sure you do this to both sides of the roast and the edges. Add to your oil and brown both sides and all the edges. Browning is the key to a tastier, juicier, and all around better roast.

browning the pot roast

After you have given your roast a nice crusty brown layer, transfer to your crock pot and set aside. Chop up your carrots into bite size pieces, and separate your garlic cloves. I use the entire head of garlic. Using the remaining oil and season from browning your roast, toss in your carrots and garlic and sauté them until they are a nice golden color.

add carrots and garlic to the pot raost

Once you are done with the carrots and garlic, pour them over your roast. I like to pour the remaining oil over the roast too, waste not want not!

Perfect Pot Roast

I add two beef bouillon cubes and a cup of water to my crock pot and set in high temp. You could also just add a cup or two of beef stock. I usually cook on high for 5-7 hours. So I put my roast on in the mid morning.

A good rule of thumb is an hour for every pound of meat. The longer and slower, the better the meat is to fall right off the roast. And that my friends, is a perfect pot roast.

Perfect Pot Roast everytime

Some of my favorite sides to this delicious roast include, but are not limited too: potatoes, corn on the cob, cauliflower mash, and salad.

This Roast was served over my cheesy garlic and herb cauliflower mash. Pot Roast Perfection, always mouth watering goodness. Hope you enjoy, if you have a pot roast recipe you love please share in the comments!

Where I Stand

So it looks like there is a new sheriff in Town, Share Six. This is going to be replacing the previous photography group I was in called Project Ten. New group, new fresh ideas, I’m on board. This months theme was “Where I stand”, the title alone had my wheels spinning in so many different directions. If you know me personally, you know I have strong views on many matters. But aren’t always comfortable talking about them with people. Because, quite frankly, people get offended too easily these days. Having deep meaningful conversations happen few and far in between. Only because topics turn into debates, rather just listening to where someone else is coming from.

But don’t worry, I’m not going to really talk about debatable things. I’m just going to share with you Where I Stand in my parenting role. And how far I’ve come in accepting my place in my home. The struggle is real.

I never wanted to be a stay at home mommy. I can’t even recall thinking about motherhood and a family of my own at all growing up. I didn’t think about my dream wedding, prince charming, or the little house on the hill with a white picket fence. I thought about going to college, and having an awesome job that paid the big bucks. I thought of ways I would conquer the world. Be great at something, write a book, and eventually land on the couch of Oprah answering all her inquisitive questions on how I became such a great success. Add the dreamy full house music as you start to drift off and imagine it. Now snap out of it.

Well life didn’t happen that way. And that’s not a bad thing, it has just been a hard thing. So here’s where I currently stand. I left a great job making great money in 2011 to stay home with my five kids. I wasn’t happy in my overall career and felt like there was no “top” for me. The main reason was that I had a family. I just couldn’t move forward in my job with out traveling more, putting in more hours, and sacrificing activities for my kids in order have personal gain. It was the toughest decision I think I have ever had to make. I am not great (in my eyes) at being a domestic mom. I get mad, I get frustrated, I bark at my kids and even my husband when I get overwhelmed. I won’t pretend it was easier to manage adults than children but I will say its 100% different. And I didn’t know how to do it. I’m still learning that part. I often feel defeat because I’m not winning awards doing the laundry or cooking a delicious and healthy meal. I sometimes drown myself in feeling lonely because I hate that so many others seem to be loving this stay at home mommy life. I don’t hate them, I just do not relate. At least at work I had a sense of community. When our personal values were different, it didn’t matter we could relate to the job. Commonalities seem to be very important in the mommy world, or so I have come to find. I kick myself for not getting out there more and meeting other moms to combat that lonely feeling. I don’t because of all the mommy drama out there. There is plenty of it; from what we feed our kids, to how we raise them, to what school project we helped with (thanks to pinterest). I’m not that mom. Some of you may think “whatever crafty Martha wanna be” but let me explain. I don’t put my kids before everything. Don’t misunderstand me, I love my kids, and I would give my life for them in a heart beat. I just don’t do as much as the next mom. I don’t proof their homework, I don’t put their laundry in their drawers for them, I don’t make their breakfast or pack their lunches, I don’t volunteer to be at the school, and I certainly don’t enjoy curriculum nights. And mom’s out there getting it done and loving it, that’s awesome. You are truly a rockstar. I’m here to let all those other moms lurking in the shadows not volunteering to hang out with a class of 30 kids at the zoo in the blazing heat know that it’s ok, there’s another mom who will gladly step in. Do your thing, whatever that thing is. For me it’s working. If you see me doing a craft, it’s probably something I intend on selling. I tried to be that other mom, and it’s just not me. I tried to make cake pops for my sons class one year for a party, then the other kids wanted them as well. The next thing I knew I was making over 100 cake pops, something I had never done before, for a bunch of kids who would have been fine with a stick of gum instead. I wasn’t really making the cake pops for the kids, I was making them so all the other moms could see how cute they were.  Who was I trying to kid. I’m no baker. And if I am, its for my family. I have nothing to prove to the next mom.

I want to be a solid provider. It’s hard for me now to have an income. Having an income is very fulfilling to me. It makes me happy. Being a happy parent is also important.  I am still raising my kids, but just not the way I thought I should have been doing it. And that was a misconception of mine. I have a right to determine my style of parenting. It has been said “wow, you run a boot camp” and I often laugh it off. I don’t run a boot camp. I just stick to my word. I am firm about my rules. If I expect my child to do something, it better get done. There isn’t a lot of warning in my house when it comes to a consequence. They have, for the most part, come to know there are consequences to every action. And attitude is everything. Sounds like a scary house I know, but it really isn’t. We are a home filled with laughter, fart sounds, and funny memories. Just like the next house. I teach my kids to be independent, to be able to care from themselves at an appropriate age. (Mainly for my own sake, but also the value of the lesson for them.) An example, I teach my kids a few basic cooking skills right about the ripe old age of five. But I’m talking basic stuff, like toast, a sandwich, basic use of a kitchen knife, then as they are comfortable they move onto other things, and they usually tell me what they want to learn. I would say most of my kids could scramble an egg by the time they were six. Once I knew, they could make their own breakfast I stopped making it for them. Sure I occasionally get up and do it, but that is rare. More often than not they are making the occasion breakfast for me. My kids eat like Kings and Queens every morning. Eggs, bacon, toast, pan cakes, home made donuts, waffles, and oatmeal just to name a few. And they all task each other with an item and share in their feast. That’s just one example of how I feel I am empowering my kids. They do sometimes ask that I cook something for them and I agree.

I am just now finding my groove, accepting the fact that it’s ok to choose something for myself before putting that extra time into my kids school project or class party. My sanity is their sanity. I spend a lot of time with my kids. “Me time”  isn’t just important to me, its necessary for me. It’s fine to admit that staying home wasn’t my first choice. It’s ok that I am a dreamer. I hope that my kids grow up remembering how hard I worked to make that extra money that allows me to be home so I could get them where they need to be. I hope that they will recognize I wanted to give them life skills like gardening, raising animals, creating something, time management, and generosity. They know school matters, but I usually let the school handle it (if I need to step in then I do).

This is my youngest son Brooks, he is the one that has had the joy of having me home the most. He will start school in the fall. He is the one that hears me say, “ok we will play that as soon as I am done working”.

Dang Quesodilla

He is quite a character. He is five and hasn’t yet mastered making a quesadilla. But he can make a piece of toast, and a PB&J sandwich. He loves getting a “mocha” from starbucks, which is a kids milk with a splash of vanilla, he prefers no ice, that way he can mix the whip cream once he drinks most of the milk. He loves to go to QT and has just recently discovered that there are more than the two where we live. It was a pretty monumental Ah Ha moment for him.

Playing Monopoly

He is good about finding something to do while I get my editing done, or I’m working on a new post, or I’m sewing something. He loves board games, although he doesn’t really play them. He mainly goes through the motions with the dice and enjoys it just the same.

Playing with his Wild Cards

He is a lover of learning. He is kindergarten ready! He knows his ABC’s, counts to 100 repeatedly throughout the day. Loves to tell me he loves me, and loves to give me snuggles. This is how I know whatever parenting style I’ve chosen, its working out ok.

If you like this awesome set of wild cards you can find them on Etsy Here by Taylor Town Design. She is a local artist I found on instagram. And I just love her creative set of alphabet cards!

Lavender Love Maternity Session.

As promised, the images from the beautiful maternity session that inspired my DIY Flower Crown. This lavender love maternity session was a vision I had when thinking of my dear friends maternity session. When she found out she was pregnant she began to plan her maternity and newborn session together. And called me to help her share her new adventure with all her loved ones.

We have been friends for a long time. We met long ago when we both became mothers far sooner than planned. Immediately we became friends and we often supported each other in young single motherhood. We actually met volunteering at a youth center for young mothers, giving support and advice to other young mothers. (I’ll save those stories for another day.)

She has recently found Mr. Right, who is not just her Prince Charming, but truly her Mr. Right. She is now newly married and starting motherhood all over again, after all these years. I knew the moment she enlisted me to be the one to document this journey, I needed to make it extra special. I had visions of glamour, rich colors, femininity, and elegance. You can find the tutorial of this beautiful DIY Flower Crown HERE

So please enjoy these images of my dear friend ready to start in New Motherhood… again. She is so lovely that I just. Can’t. Even.

Once her sweet baby girl arrives, I will share the end of my creative inspirations and craftiness.

Flower Crown Maternity Session

Purple Flower Crown and Purple maternity dress

Handmade Maternity dress and Flower Crown

Hamless Monte Cristo

I am sure you moms out there can agree that there are a few questions we hear on the daily that we could definitely do with out. Like “what’s for dinner”. I hear this question anywhere from 3-6 times per day. Everyday. 365 days a year. I guess that’s what I get for having a large family. And since I am feeding what feels like a small army, I have to figure out how to make something delicious in a reasonable amount of time. No one wants to live in the kitchen. My family is totally spoiled when it comes to dinner. They are used to variety and multiple side dishes. So if I’m feeling lazy and make what I call a “one hit wonder” (a dish with veggies, meat, and whatever else) they immediately say, “is this all we are having??”. Then I have to try and contain my exaggerated sighs and eye rolling and politely respond with a “yes” rather than a “ANYONE ELSE WANT TO VOLUNTEER AND COOK FOR YOU ALL!!??” (But maybe sometimes I respond that way.)

Ingredients

So while my husband and I were grocery shopping yesterday he asked if I had plans for dinner. I said, “no not yet” because we were pretty food less before our trip. I usually plan out a few weeks of meals then make a list. But I didn’t do that yesterday. I’m not sure why, I made a list and was mentally deciding what we would have this week. So as my husband was asking, he was holding some dinner rolls. He said, “maybe we could do something with these?”. I stood there a minute thinking, “what the heck, who plans a meal around dinner rolls?!?”. Then sandwiches popped in my head, knowing that I had an abundance of farm fresh eggs I needed to use, Monte Cristo’s seemed to be the perfect option. My husband said he’s never even heard of them, but agreed they sounded good. I can’t just make the sandwich with cheese and ham. First off, I don’t eat pork, secondly… that’s just too boring for me.

When we got home the first thing that was asked was, “what’s for dinner”. And of course the kids had never heard of monte cristo’s either. We did some traditional ones and then we had some fun making other gourmet sandwiches. No one had the same sandwich last night. For my sandwich, I wanted to use portabella caps, swiss cheese, avocado, and turkey bacon. So here’s my hamless Monte Cristo recipe.

Chop portabello caps

I started by chopping and sautéing my mushroom caps in a little extra virgin olive oil.

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I seasoned the mushrooms with ground garlic, parsley flakes, and a little salt and pepper. The mushrooms tend to absorb the oil so add more oil if you need to. Just be careful not to make it too oily, unless that’s your thing, oily greasy foods.

garlic spread ingredients

I made my own version of a garlic spread. I didn’t measure anything, just threw stuff in a bowl and mixed it up. I make this a lot, and use it for veggie dip as well as a spread. Pretty simple spread, sprinkle garlic powder and dill into a bowl of mayo (I prefer the whip dressing) and add a little mustard to taste.

add garlic spread and cheese

I used my spread on both sides of my bread to make it extra creamy once the cheese was melted. I added three slices of swiss cheese. One on both sides and then one in the middle of all my sandwich guts. I tore them so they weren’t hanging over. Cheese that hangs over gets sacrificed to the griddle Gods. And that’s just wasteful in my opinion.

add everything but the kitchen sink

I tried to layer my ingredients so the melted cheese would hold everything together. What’s not pictured is the beaten eggs. Before your sandwich goes to the griddle, dip both sides of the sandwich in some beaten eggs. Add a little butter to your griddle so the bread doesn’t stick.

complete sandwich on griddle

Press sandwich to make sure all that cheese melts all over. Other versions of a monte cristo made last night included: cheddar jack cheese bread, peppered bacon, and turkey and cheese. There were no two sandwiches alike.

DIY Flower Crown

The first thing you are going to need to do is get yourself some materials. I purchased everything you see here at JoAnn’s fabric store. I have an upcoming maternity session and had a vision for dark rich colors. Deep purples and blues. And a beautiful flower crown. The mommy to be is going to have a girl so I wanted to keep the session feminine and of course glamorous. (I also made a matching dress, but you can see that after the photos are finished.) Mommy to be has me booked for the newborn session and I will be using the same color scheme for that little miss when she arrives.

DIY FLower Crown Materials

What you’ll need for this DIY Flower Crown:
1. Flowers – I used fake flowers because I am making a matching baby mini crown or tie back.
2. Some wire
3. Wire cutters – I used 4.6m wire
4. Scissors
5. Floral tape

I started by cutting the wire about 20″ in length. I came up with that using a very scientific method. I took one end of the wire, and wrapped it around my head in the shape of a crown. Then I clipped it in a very calculating manner.

I shaped the wire into a crown and pressed it against the table to flatten it out. Then I cut my flowers from their stems. For the larger flowers I cut off the entire stem. For the smaller ones I left a little room for taping.

Flower Crown Layout

Then I created a layout for the crown. Once I decided on my flowers placement, I began wiring them starting on one side.

Taping on flower arrangement

Since the little flowers had some slack to work with they were really easy to attach to the wire. And I must say, I’m not a big fan of the floral tape. Does a great job, it’s just my super grip strength that kept snapping it. Grrrr.

The larger flowers posed a different challenge. I wanted them to be somewhat flimsy so they can be moved after being placed on a head. So I decided I was going to string them on. And it worked! I used denim thread because it’s sturdier than all purpose thread. I would recommend that or embroidery thread. Then I tied the larger flowers in place and taped the thread to help stabilize the flower but still have some wiggle room.

Finishing the crowns ends.

Once I got all my flowers placed it I knew I needed to finish the ends. Obviously having that exposed cut wire is a bit of a concern and I knew I needed to keep my client crown-stab-free. After getting this far without any accidents,  I was feeling pretty strong about my crown game. I tied a knot onto the wire and positioned it up a few centimeters. I wrapped the tape around the end of the wire to make it softer. Then wrapped the tape up over the knot and then back down again to be sure the twine didn’t just pop off. And SUCCESS!

Add final touches

Then I admired my craftsmanship. I may have even worn it for awhile in pride.

Complete DIY Flower Crown

The Simple Farm – Totes McGoats

If you are in the market to find something cool to do during Spring Break, then take a morning trip this Friday to The Simple Farm! I posted about their caramels that we enjoyed during our Febuary workshop. But after reading her blog and following Lylah Ledner on Instagram, I just knew I needed to make the trip to check out her awesome goat farm. So we did just that last Friday. On Fridays the farm is open for caramel pick up, as well as fresh farm market. They have fresh eggs, produce, caramels, chocolates from Bee Hive Chocolates, and local raw honey. That’s just a glimpse of all the goodies she has!

Cute hand painted signs give directions to this Urban Farm.
Cute hand painted signs give directions to this Urban Farm.

Right as we parked, I knew I was smitten for this Urban Farm. Tucked away off what seemed like a normal street. Parking lined with rail road ties. Cute painted signs made from recycled pallets. When I think of Scottsdale, I admit, farming isn’t the first thing that crosses my mind. To be honest, I think of snooty, fashion forward wealthy people. All wearing their lulu lemon workout clothes (at any given time of the day) carrying a fresh poured coffee from this weeks newest trendiest coffee shop that probably cost them $10. I know I know, my “judgy” is showing. So when I pulled into the parking lot and walked back to this Urban Farm I was blown away. I’m not sure how many acres the farm is, but it was well laid out. There were garden beds every where, Vines, planting boxes and potting plants that seemed endless in sight. There were garden and farm staff quietly working on the plants. As you follow the signs back you come to a small covered area with tables to sit and enjoy some Mama’s Cold Brew coffee and creamer. A local momtreprenuer who has come to be quite infamous with in the greater phoenix areas. There is a cute little barn filled with fresh produce, herbs, caramels, tea spices, fresh eggs, and countless other things I can’t even remember.

Enjoy a cup of Mama's Cold Brew while you are thinking of how you will cook your farm fresh produce.
Enjoy a cup of Mama’s Cold Brew while you are thinking of how you will cook your farm fresh produce.

I forgot to take a picture of my coffee, I was too busy guzzling it down. I chose Mama’s cold brews vanilla creamer and my husband went with the Irish creamer. But the coffee is perfectly fine black, filled with rich flavors like cinnamon and nutmeg. I typically drink my coffee black but wanted to taste the homemade creamers.

I had been chatting via email with Lylah the week earlier to let her know I’d be stopping by, and to respectfully inquire about photography. Its important to me, especially since I travel in a larger pack than many, I ask about taking pictures when we go places. Some places don’t allow it. It preserves the spaces, and I respect that. You would be surprised at how many people (including photographers) don’t ask, and abuse places that do not have a policy. That can cause one of two things: a fee, or no “photography allowed”. So upon arrival she came up to the shop and was outside chatting with a friend of mine who plans to have some professional photography done on her farm. See her rules for photography HERE. And she said to her, “oh there is a photographer coming by today” and then my friend said, “yea she’s in there”! And then there I was admiring all her goodies, trying to decide what all I wanted to buy. Lylah came in and introductions where made. We got to talking about cameras and asked if I’d mind taking a picture of one of the goats. Ummmm, a chance to see the baby goats…. SIGN ME UP! I agreed and we headed back toward the house on the farm, I curiously sprayed my shoes with something labled “hoof spray” upon her request. And headed into the goats living quarters. They were such well mannered goats. A little nosy, wondering who this stranger was in their pen and what my business was. Then came the babies, soooooo cute! Once we got back there she noticed (who doesn’t) I came with a rather large group of kids. It just happened to be feeding time, and asked if some of them would like to help bottle feed the babies. DOUBLE YES! I went and got some of the older kids I knew would want to. Doowon (15 our Korean Exchange student), Beau (12), Braden (10), and Bennett (8). Caitlyn (14) stayed behind because she didn’t want to crowd the babies, and well Brooks (5) is just a little young and uninterested. He probably would have done fine, but I didn’t want to risk managing him around the baby goats.

Mama Goats Milk

Some babies took right to the bottles, and some weren’t as interested in feeding. They were more interested in sniffing us.

Feeding time for the baby goats

My kids love animals, all animals. And I have always wanted to raise some farm animals. But as of now, my HOA doesn’t see things my way.

Cherry is the only girl born out of 11 babies in the last month.
Cherry is the only girl born out of 11 babies in the last month.

Meet Cherry, the one and only baby girl. The reason our farm adventure turned into an amazing day out during our spring break. Because she needed a picture. Isn’t she the cutest?

Totes McGoats

Here are some of the Goats who received a lot less attention but are cute none the less. They are simply “Totes McGoats”.

B Hansen Photography Workshop #bhphotoworkshop

BHPhoto Workshop in Action

I am so excited to say that my first Photography workshop was a success. And as you know, I could not have had the courage to do it with out the help from my dear friend and designer Paige Rangel. She is the author of The Love Designed Life and mommy to two little beauties with one on the way.

I have been planning to start some small workshops at the request of many friends and clients for almost a year now. And as a small business owner, sometimes it can be hard to take a step in this direction and teach the up and comers. (Or AKA The Up and Coming Competition!) But in my third official year in business I decided to take this leap of faith and offer a beginner workshop and hope it does not hinder my business plan, but steers it positively.  I am branching out this year to offer these workshops, some individual mentoring, and some online tutorials. B Hansen Photography Workshop is a GO! I do admit, teaching and facilitating is definitely a passion of mine. (A reason that I have given this blog bit an on again-off again relationship.)

When planning any sort of get together I tend to go a tad over board. I like everything to match, have a cohesive design and/or theme. This is seriously any thing I do. SO when it came to planning a workshop I knew I needed the help of fashionista/designer/DIYer/over the toper like me friend Paige. I was able to give her some of my ideas and she brought them to life. She offered some ideas that worked brilliantly with the food creations, workshop book, and family styling that truly created a workshop to remember.

Beautiful succulents by The Love Designed Life
Beautiful succulents by The Love Designed Life

Here is an example of our practice workspace. The succulents are from Trader Joe’s and were a parting gift to each attendee. She made all the other floral arrangements and creations… By hand… Real Flowers. Did I mention how amazing she is?

Our delicious treats by The Bean Co and The Simple Farm
Our delicious treats by The Bean Co and The Simple Farm

When it came to food, I knew she has enough on her plate designing and styling everything else, so I took care of the grub. Another passion of mine. These are the most delicious hand made caramels any of us have ever had! Bought locally from The Simple Farm. They are made with fresh goats milk and are TO. DIE. FOR. The small food items I made were a brown rice pancake topped with some roasted carrots, beats, and chic peas. Our other tasty treat was my homemade baby lemon cakes made fresh from lemons I picked from a friends farm in Mesa.

Perfect natural aroma therapy by The Love Designed Life
Perfect natural aroma therapy by The Love Designed Life

This was the table set up for shooting in direct sunlight.

Perfect gift for a photography workshop. Scarf camera strap by The Bloom Theory.
Perfect gift for a photography workshop. Scarf camera strap by The Bloom Theory.

What’s an awesome workshop without a raffle?? Not an awesome workshop, that’s what. Each guest was part of a raffle and the prize was a goody indeed! This fabulous scarf camera strap by The Bloom Theory. This gal did a happy dance after winning this sweet little number, picture of dance not featured.

And now to the fun. After each lesson we took a break and practiced what we covered in our lesson book. Then at the end of the workshop we offered an option shoot out. This is where my friend truly shines. (See how she styled this family HERE.) Here are the images taken by me. B Hansen Photography

This gorgeous session was styled by The Love Designed Life
This gorgeous session was styled by The Love Designed Life
Fresh floral crowns with perfect succulent accents provide a perfect dreamy addition to this fabulous styled photo session by The Love Designed Life
Fresh floral crowns with perfect succulent accents provide a perfect dreamy addition to this fabulous styled photo session by The Love Designed Life
Styled by The Love Designed Life, these siblings are too cute for words!
Styled by The Love Designed Life, these siblings are too cute for words!
after a long day of learning this awesome group of ladies are putting their new talents to work! Styling by The Love Designed Life
after a long day of learning this awesome group of ladies are putting their new talents to work! Styling by The Love Designed Life