Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Wedding Photography Checklist

My husband and I are photographers and working on building our wedding business up this year.  Here is a checklists for photographers or brides to use to make sure all the important pictures are covered.
Click the link below pic to download!


Friday, January 27, 2012

Reheating pizza 2.0

So like a lot of people, if we had leftover pizza, I used to zap it in the microwave for a minute or use the magical pizza button.  But as you know, doughy things just get doughier (if that is a word) in the microwave.  I saw this tip somewhere and gave it a try and it is awesome.  I will never use the microwave for heating up leftover pizza again!

The stovetop!  It works!  It crisps up the crust and heats up the toppings just enough.   I just cook it on medium for a few minutes.  I even flip it and cook the toppings side for just a minute to get the cheese all gooey again.  This was some yummy New York style pizza from a local place and it was great last night but even better for lunch because the pan made the crust perfectly crispy!


Thursday, January 19, 2012

Top Ten Baby Must-Haves

After having three babies in the last seven years, I have seen all the ads and tried a lot of baby products.  Some are gimmicks and are just a place for new parents to throw money, but some are truly awesome must-haves.  All babies and all parents are different but these are my favorite baby products:

10. Eurobath tub- like 2 tubs in one!  They can lay as little newborns and then sit up on the other side.  It cleans easily but it is a pain to store.
9. Ergo Baby Carrier-worth its weight in gold and they almost price it accordingly.  It is comfortable for baby and mommy...even mommies with horrible backs like mine.  I look like an idiot buckling the middle back strap sometimes but once it is on, it is great.

8. Carter's Sleep and Play outfits-seriously the cuddliest clothes out there.  They hold up so well and fit great.  I have a ton in all those storage bins up there in the closets and they still look great.

7. Snuza-It is a movement monitor that clips onto their diaper and sounds an alarm if they stop breathing.  I use it and the Angelcare Monitor.  The plus to the Snuza is that they can where it anywhere.  I wish insurance companies would pay for every baby to leave the hospital to go home with one of these.  I slept much better knowing this thing was on my baby all night.

6. Playtex Drop-ins Bottles-they are BPA free and so easy to use.  As someone who didn't own a dishwasher with her oldest, these are a lifesaver.  And I love that they have the most choices when it comes to nipple styles.  My kids had serious nipple preferences and I could always find a Playtex that worked.

5. Maclaren Strollers-I currently own three.  Yes, three.  I have the Easy Traveller that is like a Snap and Go for infant seats, a Volo and a Quest.  I love my Quest.  It almost pushes itself.  I have taken the Volo over the cobblestone streets of London, through airports around the world and it is still working great.  They are almost indestructible and so easy to use.

4.  Fisher-Price Space Saver Highchair-I love that it sits on a chair and doesn't take up the volume a conventional high chair does.  It cleans easily, adjusts well and even converts to a booster.  What a deal!
3. Bumbo-love this thing.  Okay, don't put your kid in it on top the refrigerator and don't keep them in it for hours on end but when you need it, it rocks.  My kids are late sitters and this helps them feel like they can sit up and play.  I have even used it as a high chair and a bath seat on vacation and it wipes right up.

2.  Fisher-Price Rock 'n Play Sleeper-a great way to keep your newborn close to you and a total must if your baby has reflux.  It folds up flat and is great in small spaces.  I would take it from room to room in the first couple of months and have a place to the lay the baby down.  She was so comfy in this and it kept her on her back and on an angle.

and finally...
1. The Swaddle Me blanket and Woombie-both amazing at keeping babies all wrapped up and safe feeling in this cruel, cold world.  I credit these for giving me (and the baby) uninterrupted sleep far sooner than we would have otherwise.  My babies are easily startled and this let them stay sweetly bundled tight and sleep soundly.  The Woombie is great for babies that outgrow the Swaddle Me.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The best software I have ever purchased!

Other than Photoshop of course!

YNAB!  Youneedabudget.com is the most user-friendly software I have ever used!  It is like a checkbook register that works with a budget you set up.  They offer free webinars and even have a free book you can read to really maximize your usage.  I have tried mint.com and other online methods but this has been the best way to really use and keep a budget I have ever found.  Give it a try!  They have a free trial for over 30 days so you can tinker around before you commit.

I also like giving my money to a small business.  The developers came up with this software based on the concept of spending last month's money so this month's is in the bank.  You build up your buffer until you are at this point.  It really helps us because a lot of our expenses are on the 1st of the month (mortgage, etc) so we need that buffer.  It really works well with the concepts we learned from Dave Ramsey.

Friday, January 6, 2012

E-Mealz Review and a Very Pretty Salad!

So I'm in deep with Dave Ramsey.  Really deep.  Like when people ask me how I'm doing, I have to keep myself from saying, "better than I deserve."  If you listen to Dave you know that e-mealz.com advertises on his radio show so I was curious.  Along came a Groupon deal for $17 for a 6 month membership so I felt it was worth the leap.

So what is e-mealz.com?  It is a dinner planning service that give my brain and creativity a break and does all the hard work for me by giving me a meal plan for the week with a shopping list.  I chose the Aldi plan because it is my favorite grocery store and I'm trying to save money.  They say that 7 meals will add up to a grocery bill of $65-$80 per week but I haven't seen one over $75 yet.  It has saved us so much money especially because I was the type that would resort to eating out if I didn't like what we had on hand.

I really like the food!  It is super easy and pretty similar to what we already eat but just done for me!  There are some really creative meals that I hadn't thought of and even some crock pot recipes in there.  A lot of people wonder what to do if they don't like all the dinners for that week.  We aren't super picky eaters so this isn't a huge issue for us but there is usually one meal a week that isn't right for our family so we substitute a family favorite, frozen pizzas and a bagged salad or we make sure that is Tuesday night's meal because kids eat free at our Chick-fil-A!

Here was one of our meals the other night.  It was a layered salad that I would never normally make but we loved it!  I added a layer of chopped chicken breast and some green onions but otherwise followed my e-mealz.com plan of layering:
chopped lettuce
thawed frozen peas
cheddar cheese
sliced hard boiled eggs
and a dressing made of 1 cup mayo (I used light) with 2 T sugar
My kids thought it was too pretty to eat and there was plenty left for the next day!

If you have been on the fence about e-mealz.com, give it a try and give your brain a break!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

January Girl Scout Meeting

I lead a Brownie/Daisy Troop and here was our first meeting in January:
I wanted a quiet activity for the girls since the moms were going to have a little cookie meeting and sign permission slips.
We did pledge and the Girl Scout Promise.  Then I had the girls go around and say one thing they got for the holidays that they really enjoyed and their name (we just got more new girls in the troop).  Then I asked if anyone could remember everyone's name and what their special present was.  A couple of girls could and they helped each other out.
Then we talked about a famous Girl Scout.  We do this every meeting.  This time it was Robin Roberts.  We talked about who she is and what a journalist is.
Then we made snow playdough.  I had it premade and in Ziplocs but I went around and sprinkled glitter in and had them squish it together.  They had a paper plate and they made snowmen, snowforts, snowballs, snow angels, igloos, etc.  We live in TX and haven't had any real snow this year...yet.

My daughter's snow fort
Then we had little ice cream sundae cups for snack and talked about how you can make snow ice cream.  Then we talked about winter animals and how they survive being out in the cold...polar bears, penguins, etc. by hibernating or having really warm coats.
Finished with talking about selling cookies and had the girls try to name all the cookies.  I award a "Star Daisy" and "Star Brownie" based on who was quiet, respecful, etc and gave them the new Lipsmackers lip balm in Girl Scout Cookie flavors (available at Walmart) and sang Make New Friends.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Life Journal

I have blogged about Life Journalling before but I thought it would be a great time to talk about it again since a lot of people resolve to spend more time in the Word for the New Year.  Life Journals are one way to have some daily time reading the Bible and then reflecting on what you read.  You can go to their site at www.lifejournal.cc and then click on "Read Now".

Their method involves reading through the Bible in a year and picking out one passage or verse a day to journal about.  You use the acronym, "SOAP"....

Scripture: write out the verse
Observation: write out this verse in your own words and what you feel God is saying in it
Application: write out what how you feel this applies to your life
Prayer: write a prayer of how you need help living out this verse or what you hear God saying to you

It is that simple.  Here is an example of how I would do it using today's passage:

S-So he went back to Nazareth with them, and lived obediently with them. His mother held these things dearly, deep within herself. And Jesus matured, growing up in both body and spirit, blessed by both God and people.  Luke 2:51:52

O-Mary probably couldn't fully process all the miracles she had experienced both before and after Jesus was born.  She did her best to raise her son all while trying to understand the words she had heard about her child from angels and prophets.  

A-As a mom, I understand what it is like to marvel at the promises of God over my children.  My kids aren't Jesus and they aren't perfectly obedient every day but I know that they have a special plan for their lives and I need to focus on holding those promises dearly.  I am here to raise them to know God and fulfill the grand plan He has for them.

P-God help me to hold the promises for my kids dearly, deep in my heart.  Remind me of what you have said is in their future and reveal to us as their parents how we are to lead them through their childhood.  God let me never be too distracted that I forget that nurturing their spiritual growth is the most important job I have as a mom.

I really enjoy this method and I find it helps me focus on what I have read.  I hope this can help someone else.  They sell journals that outline the method and have the daily Bible reading on each page but you can do this online or in any notebook.