Thursday, June 23, 2011

Just a Little Post

Just wanted to post this because I thought it was funny. My uncle takes great pictures. I really like his camera, it's a great point and shoot, and he definitely takes some really nice pictures on it.

We were at a wedding reception and he asked his daughter to take a picture of him and my aunt in front of the beautiful view of the window. She tried and kept saying that their faces were too dark. She took 5 or 6 and they all turned out beautiful in the background, but too dark for the subjects. He took his camera back and started fiddling with the settings, then got frustrated and put it down, saying the camera wasn't working and he didn't know what setting to use. I suggested using a fill flash to which he replied "I never ever use a flash. This camera does things that yours will never dream of without having to buy $1000 dollar lenses for it." I gave up, took a photo on auto with my flash, and said no more.

You win, Uncle Kenny.

Monday, June 20, 2011

The Most Important Recipe I Own

**Note - I originally wrote this for Deviantly Domesticated back in August of last year. Be sure to check out the site and sign up to get your free ebook!**

1 C flour
…1/2 C salt
2 tsp cream of tarter
2 tbls baby oil
1 C water
(I also mix in a little vanilla to make it smell nice and keep it from molding)
food coloring
Stir constantly over medium heat. When right consistency, remove and knead. Fold in color when right consistency.
Usually my day starts out with two children in my face, sometimes jumping on me telling me “It’s morning time mom! Time to get up!” Sometimes it’s very refreshing; other times I just want to curl up and go back to bed. Today started like usual, followed by my normal facebook update check and a trip to the gym. My son kept saying to me all morning “Mom, I want to do something special today. Can we make playdough?”

I have been teaching both of my children (Ethan, 4, and Cadie, 2) how to cook a lot lately, so this sounded like a good recipe for the day. I measure out each ingredient for them and let them dump it in a big bowl (usually cutting each part in half so they both get a turn). They each have a wooden spoon and they mix it around into sludge, then I pour it into our special “playdough pot” and heat it up on low heat on the stove. Their eyes get wider and wider as they watch it transform from a gooey mess into a pliable dough. I set it out on the table and start adding the food coloring. Today the consensus was to make orange and purple, so we also practiced figuring out with color combinations would produce the desired colors. Finally, the playdough is done. We break out the rolling pins, cookie cutters, “car squishers” and “noodle makers” and the fun begins. I love listening to their little imaginations go crazy with experimentation. “Mom, look! I make a snake!” or “yummy!” (from my 2 year old. We’re still working on that part.)
I guess this is kind of not only a food recipe I wanted to share, but a recipe for a fun day. Now if you will excuse me, I have a dinosaur to go make.

PS - This post has been linked up!

Friday, June 17, 2011

What Do We Think? Getting There?

Well, still a work in progress, but I think I'm finally getting the hang of this. Although, now the pictures feel a tad dark since I am not working on them at 12:30 at night...

I'm hoping my mom likes the color of the curtains and the carpet better on this one. There is only so much I can do about that....

Thursday, June 16, 2011

A Little Bit Stuck

Hey everyone! I could use some help. My mom gave me her stack of wedding photos and asked me to edit them for her, make them look a little bit nicer and try to get rid of that rust color in the background. I have only worked on one photo so far, here is what I have done:

 The Original

The Edit

I started with the Blueberry Glaze filter from I felt like it made her face too dark, though, so I tried to adjust the white balance and it bleached out her dress. I also felt like the glaze got rid of a lot of the pretty detail from her dress and flowers. Let's just say I've spent the better part of 2 hours working on this photo so far, and I can't get it right. Is there anyone out there who can help me? Any actions you can think of to make this work right?

This post has been linked up in hopes that someone out there can help me :)

Edited: My cousin Rob gave me some suggestions, and I finally found the levels. Yeah, I feel dumb that I just found them. Oh well. Here's what I have so far:

I like this one MUCH better, so much more natural looking!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Nothing New to Post Yet...

I wish I had something to link up to all of these fun parties this week. I have definitely been busy, but I haven't finished almost any of it at this point. Here are a couple of projects I have cooking right now:

-Stocking #8 out of 26. If you want to read the story about the stockings, check out this link from Deviantly Domesticated

-Finishing getting caught up on Project Life. I thought I had it all done for May, but there are a couple of holes that need to get filled

-Painting the living room and hallway. I finally have all the trim in the hallway painted white, just need to do the doors. Then the real work begins; painting the living room. I think I finally might have the shade of gray I want, but we will have to see. So far this has taken me 2 months. Boo.

-I have all the ingredients ready to go to make some homemade granola, I just need to get the motivation to actually make it.

-Still cooking baby, about 9 weeks out. I'm a little tired of all of the testing though. I failed the first glucose test and got really sick during the second one and couldn't finish. I also found out my thyroid is not functioning right, so today I got to go to the hospital for the 3rd time in a week to get stuck with a needle. Here's hoping the results tomorrow will be good.

-I'm also supposed to be scanning in my mom and dad's wedding photos and editing them in Photoshop. My mom doesn't like the color of the background so I need to figure out how to change it, but I think I have 100+ pictures to edit. Their 35th anniversary is Monday, so I should really get on that....

-I made some super cute things for a party for my friend's baby, but forgot to take pictures of them. Maybe I will sneak over there and get some pictures so I can actually have a project to post sometime this week. We'll see.

That's about it for now. I'm tired, it's time for bed. Night all.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Quest to Live Healthier

Well, I blew it. All of the crap I have been eating this pregnancy seems to have caught up to me. I failed my glucose test at my last OB appointment. I have to go in tomorrow and do the dreaded 3 hour test at the hospital, and it sounds like the docs are expecting it to come up positive for Gestational Diabetes. DANG IT! So much for those bowls of ice cream every night. (I should put in a disclaimer that as I am typing this, I am letting myself eat my last Totino's Pizza. I would hate to see it go to waste in the freezer....)

Going through my pantry I realized how much sugar I bring in to our house. Sure, our granola bars may be "Fiber Plus with Antioxidants," but I guarantee they are still full of simple sugars and preservatives. And don't get me started on cereal. Seriously, if you want to buy healthy cereal you have to pay like $4+ a box for it! Ridiculous. So instead I have put lots of Fruit Loops, Apple Jacks, and Corn Pops and let kids eat those to their hearts' content in the mornings while I get some more zzzz's. Even the Honey Bunches of Oats is staring me in the face saying "unhealthy, unhealthy, unhealthy...."

I decided it's time to replace all of the sugary cereals and bars in our home with something homemade and healthy. I mean, you can buy healthy, but it's SO EXPENSIVE, and I even read an article about how healthy cereals still undergo a lot of the same processing the unhealthy ones do that strip away the nutrients and protein from the individual grains. No good.

I searched Google for "homemade cereals," and it astounded me how many of them DON'T HAVE PICTURES. Seriously, people, if you want me to try your recipe that contains some crazy ingredients like flax seed and other foods found in Boulder, YOU NEED A PICTURE for me to want to think that it looks good and make me want to try it. Here are some finds I did come across that had the courtesy to take an appetizing picture of them:

A major plus is that this week Sprouts is running at 25% off ALL BULK ingredients this week, so it's a great chance to go and get this hippy stuff for 25% cheaper. Hopefully I will like it, and my kiddos too.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

My Tiny Dancer

Just have to share a few pics from my Little Miss's first dance class. They are adorable!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

School Activities: Garden Recording

This one is an activity we are planning on doing weekly throughout the summer to record the growth of our garden. We planted probably our biggest garden yet this year, and to help keep the kids interested I wanted to show them how it changes over time. The first thing we do is measure the tallest of each plant, since we have multiples of most of them. To be scientifically accurate you are supposed to measure either each plant or the same plant every single week, but with a four and two year old I'm not worried about it too much...

Don't you just want to measure this cute little guy?

Fresh spinach!

The peas are coming along quite nicely.

Strawberry flowers are blooming. We are expecting our first fruits probably late next week!

As we measured each plant, I had the kids record how many inches tall they were. The four year old wrote all of his own numbers (notice he wrote I I I I  for the watermelon - told me 1+1+1+1=4!). The two year old mostly played in the dirt while I wrote the measurements, but she helped out a little bit.

After that I wanted them each to pick one thing they each noticed about the garden. My son said "The plants are growing big and strong" and my daughter said "the garden has plants." I'm hoping they remember things next time like flowers. They each drew a picture of the garden. Ethan's shows dirt, water, and that the plants are in lines. Little Miss's shows a ladybug.

I have altered the printout next time so I can add their names and the date to each one. I three-hole-punched their papers and put them in our school notebook for safe keeping. It took quite awhile (especially since it was 90 degrees outside and I about passed out from the heat) but they enjoyed it, and now that we have done it once I think it will go much quicker next time.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Fighting the Cravings...

So, this pregnancy has been really bad for cravings. Like, really bad. I feel like I want nothing to eat but greasy, fatty foods. I've had times where I drive to Burger King at 10:45 at night because I want a Whopper SO BADLY! And the afternoons are the worst, when my kids are sleeping and I go scrounging around the house, only to eat chocolate and sometimes ice cream. Then throw on top that my husband and I have bowls of ice cream every night after kids go to bed. So yes, sometimes I have two whole bowls of ice cream in one day. Fruits and veggies, which normally sound good, don't sound or really even taste good any more. Let's just say that my thunder thighs (which my mom noticed last summer when I was pretty fit) are not happy with me, and I'm thinking this is going to be my hardest pregnancy to bounce back from. So, I decided I needed to come up with something a little healthier to make myself eat when those cravings hit. That's where this little beauty comes in:

This has always been one of my favorite summer salads. It still doesn't sound or taste particularly good, since it's all healthy and stuff, but it's better than cookies and ice cream! It's really simple: cucumbers, tomatoes, and green peppers, dressed in fat free Italian dressing. When those cravings set in, I'm trying to make myself eat healthier so recovery is a little better. We shall see....

Monday, June 6, 2011

Summer School Activity - Writing a Recipe

Today's activity is brought to you by the cutest boy in the world. Here he is showing off the final product of our school time today: a delicious loaf of pear bread.

Here is an easy way to incorporate baking and cooking into your school work for the day:

White paper/cardstock
Extra paper/cardstock in color of your choice
Scissors (for adult)
Glue sticks

Prep Work: I Googled images of each of the ingredients in our recipe. I tried to stick to non-brand pictures for most of it, except for the baking powder because I didn't want it to get mixed up with baking soda. I copied each image and pasted it into a Word Document. I also wrote out the words for each of the ingredients in Comic Sans MS (I find this to be the closest font to the way they teach kids how to write). I cut out each image and word individually. Total prep time: 20 minutes.

Directions for kids:
My two year old had all of the pictures of ingredients in front of her. I had her find each ingredient as I read it from the main recipe. She then pasted each one on the extra colored cardstock.

As Little Miss found each ingredient, I had my four year-old find the word that matched it. He definitely can't read them, but he is working on using sounds he hears me say to figure out which word matches.

After he found each word, he pasted it next to the picture of the ingredient. (I should also note that ahead of time I had him copy the words "Pear Bread" on the top and explained that this is how we know what we are making.)

It took up both sides of the paper, but it is three-hole punched and is now in our school notebook for safekeeping.

After we wrote the recipe, I had the kiddos call out the ingredients and I found them in our supplies. Then together we baked some pear bread. We were able to make 2 smaller loaves with this recipe, one with raisins and one without. It can also make one big loaf if that is what you prefer.

Here is the finished product. Go ahead, be jealous of my breakfast for the next few days...

Modifications for different ages and abilities:
-For kids that are learning their letter sounds - only print out the first letter of each ingredient instead of the whole word.
-For kids that can already read - add the amount of each ingredient and cut out separately, then have the child find both the word and the amount to use.
-For kids that are learning how to add fractions - add amounts that, when summed together, make the total amount of each ingredient. For example: The recipe calls for 1 2/3 cups of sugar. Instead write 1/3 5 times and have them figure out the amount of 1/3 cups needed to make the total.

Pear Bread Recipe: (You didn't think I would leave that out, did you?)
-3 cups pureed pears (also works with zucchini instead!)
-1 2/3 cups sugar
-2/3 cups vegetable oil
-2 tsp. vanilla
-3 cups of flour
-4 eggs
-1 tsp. salt
-1 tbs. cinnamon
-1/2 tsp. baking powder
-Optional: 1/2 cup raisins, 1/2 cup chopped nuts

Preheat oven to 350. Grease bottoms of 2 loaf pans. Mix fruit, sugar, oil, vanilla, and eggs. Stir in remaining ingredients. Pour into pans. Bake 50-60 minutes. Cool 10 minutes. Loosen sides of loaves and remove from pans. Cool completely before slicing. Wrap tightly and store at room temp up to 4 days, refrigerate up to 10 days. Also freezes really nicely.

PS - This party has been linked up!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

I Hate Gray Paint

I have been searching for the perfect gray paint color for our living room and hallway. I have bought samples, searched online, and done the whole "try it on your own room" apps from various websites, and I still can't find a color I like. The first sample I tried was Popular Gray by Sherwin Williams. It was too pink in these rooms, too warm for the blue carpet.

The second color was Swanky Gray by Sherwin Williams. This time it was too blue, and when the light hits it just right it turns.... lavender.

The next color was Bedford Gray by Martha Stewart. This time it's closer to the color family I want, but WAY too dark to cover the entire main room and hallway in.

I am seriously at a loss right now. I don't want to commit to $100+ in paint if I don't love the color, and I have yet to find one I love! Here are some others I am considering right now...

Horizon by Benjamin Moore

Dolphin Fin by Behr

French Silver by Behr

OMG, who knew it would be THIS HARD to pick a color!?! I'm about fried... Which one is your favorite? If you have painted gray, which color did you pick? My biggest problem is that I have blue carpet which makes the gray turn too blue.....

Photoshop Actions

I have loved learning new techniques for Photoshop over the last couple of weeks. I got a little scared when my computer suddenly became a paperweight and wouldn't turn on at all (and if it did, it would shut itself off after 10   minutes!) Fortunately the hubby is pretty tech savvy and took out the video card and cleaned it all out from the dust. My computer is now without a video card, DVD/CD-ROM, and SD card reader. At this rate all we will have left by Christmas will be the box! But hey, it's working now, so awesome.

I have been learning a lot about the use of actions in Photoshop. I picked up a couple AWESOME ones for free from and I am so IN LOVE with them! I mostly use the vignette and the "Perfect Portrait," but I'm also exploring some others. Here are some fun before and after shots for you:

Actions used: same tutorial from Noel Culbertson, along with Perfect Portrait action from

Same tutorial from Noel Culbertson and Vignette from

Cropped, Perfect Portrait mode from (I still need to adjust some levels on this one, but I love how it's coming out so far!)

Same tutorial from Noel Culbertson and using the Vignette action on

Thanks for checking out my photos today!