Friday, May 29, 2009

Foto Friday!

On Monday, I had the privilege of photographing two of my nephews. I totally couldn't pick a favorite, because that would be like...favoritism. So how about a picture of each? Yes? I thought you'd appreciate that.

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I admit that I really like this one mainly because I love the yellow. :)

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Happy Friday! Have a great weekend, everyone!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Thankful Thursday!

We're out of town! I love traveling!

I'm shooting a wedding in Iowa this weekend and then my hubby and I are headed up to Mackinac Island for a few days while my parents watch the kiddos!

Don't worry. I've scheduled some posts for several of the day we'll be gone, so you won't be lonely without me here. :)

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

WFMW: DIY Shelving

It's another edition of Works-For-Me-Wednesday! A day when I can brag about my accomplishments in life! I mean, umm...a day when I hope to give you some ideas for your life. It's all about you. Really, it is.

Last year I saw a great shelving system on the Better Homes and Gardens website. Last month I designed a similar shelving system for our laundry room. And last night we finally got it built and put up!

Considering how quickly our family keeps growing, I am always in search of new storage spaces and solutions. When I realized last year that our laundry room was just FULL of empty wall space, I set it on my heart to transform that empty space into storage space. I decided to design the system myself rather than purchasing a pre-made one for two reasons:

1. It would give me exactly what I wanted, and
2. I thought it would be cheaper.

I never did really do much pricing for shelving systems, so I don't know if we saved any money, but I don't think we spent any more than if we had bought one. The whole thing cost us around $65.

When I started designing, the first thing I did was measure EVERYTHING. I measured the wall space. I measured the folded towels. I measured the laundry detergents. I measured the trash can. You get the idea. After everything was measured, I drew up the plans with exact inches. Since I'm not the math genius in the family, I had my husband figure out exactly how to divide up the boards to get the best use of them.

We purchased 8 pieces of 6ft 1" x 12"s, measured them out, cut them, and pieced them together. (Okay, so most of that was my husband. But whatever. I totally helped.)

When we finally got it upstairs and installed, I was so pleased! But I was also wishing I had painted it. Oh well. I can always paint it later.

Here is the before, middle, and after of our brand spanking new USEFUL storage space in our laundry room:


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See how pitiful? I know. And to think that our builder didn't put any shelving up. We had to do that sad job ourselves.


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Much better! Oh, and see my new ironing board?


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Oh how I love thee, beautiful storage space! And yes, all those bags at the top are diapers. (We have always liked to stock up before our little ones arrived.)

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Can someone help me....?

I'm terrible with stain-treating. I mean, my kids (my girls, especially) have a tendency to get their clothing completely covered in....whatever....every time we're out. They just have a natural talent for this, I guess. If it would happen while we were at home, I'd have no problems. I'd simply whisk off their shirt/dress/pants and rinse it with water and some shampoo or detergent until the stain came out.

But when we're not home, and the stains have hours to set in....I don't know what to do with them. Normally, they just sit in a separate pile while I think about how I might treat them until finally I decide that I'm just going to throw them in with the wash and, of course, that doesn't work at all.

I have a few friends who swear by Oxi-Clean for their clothes. I see it in the stores all the time. I've even taken it off the shelf a few of those times but only to put it back a minute later after considering the price tag.

I know other friends who say Shout works wonders for them. But I must not be a very adept Shout user, because Shout has never done anything for me except...well...make me shout. At the lack of stain removal, that is.

I have tried baking soda, shampoo, regular liquid detergents, sprays, etc. and have found nothing to be very effective.

Aside from immediately stripping my children of their clothing and washing their clothes at that very moment, could some of you puh-lease offer me some advice on this one??? Our clothes would appreciate it!

"Not Me!" Monday! (Sshh, I know it's really Tuesday.)


A few months ago, I started reading MckMama's blog, My Charming Kids. You probably noticed the "Praying for Stellan" button go up on the side of the blog as I followed along on her journey through weeks and weeks in the hospital with her precious baby. (You can visit her blog to catch up on all that.)

MckMama and Stellan are now home and she is back to her regular blogging. Each Monday she hosts "Not Me" Monday, which is basically a really sarcastic version of explaining all the things that you would never want to admit you do each week.

Since sarcasm is right up my alley, I thought I might try my hand at participating! There are about a million and one links from her blog to others' "Not Me" Monday posts, so if you enjoy mine and want to read more...well, you're out of luck today. I was going to suggest that you head on over to MckMama's "Not Me!" Monday post and click on some Mr. Linky links, buuutt....I'm guessing because of the holiday, she did not post one this week. Or at least, she thinks that today is actually Monday, just like I keep thinking, and so it's going up today.

Either way, get used to the "Not Me" Monday posts because I have a really good time writing them! :)

Ok, so here goes....

Last week, I certainly did not allow my children to watch 2 straight hours of PBS while I napped on the floor among them, completely -- I mean, um....somewhat -- unaware of what was going on in the house.

I definitely did not make and eat almost an entire one of these, nor did I substitute that for several meals throughout the course of the week. I also most certainly did not eat way too many Oreos one afternoon rather than eating a complete lunch.

I did not feed my children ONLY grilled cheese sandwiches for lunch one day - no veggies, no fruit, no nothing else. I would never do something like that! I always offer well-balanced meals 3 times a day. No exceptions.

There is no way I left the kitchen a complete disaster one evening and instead spent a whopping 3 hours surfing the net. Because you know, that would just be irresponsible.

I did not drop 3 different items in approximately 1 minute when at church on Sunday. Pregnant women never drop things. You should know this already.

And speaking of church, I definitely did not totally start crying on the way to church just because a song on the radio reminded me of a sweet friend and her darling little girl who is now spending all her days with Jesus. I am not that emotional. And because I didn't start crying on the way to church, I also didn't have to wonder how in the world to make my mascara look remotely like it had been "uncried" with just moments before walking into the church. I also didn't wonder if said friend carries around mascara for these very moments and didn't ponder if, perhaps, I should consider doing the same thing. Since, you know, I'm not that emotional.

Alright, that's all I've got for you on this, my very FIRST, "Not Me" Monday (even though it's actually Tuesday). Hope you enjoyed it! :)

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Foto Friday! (Errrrr....Saturday)

I just love the colors in this picture!

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Thursday, May 21, 2009

Thankful Thursday

I was just sitting here with my laptop, pondering what I might like to blog about today when I felt the wee one kicking inside me. I do love that feeling, at least at this stage in the game, so I naturally looked down and saw FOR THE FIRST TIME THIS PREGNANCY my little one's kicks from the outside. I know they've been felt on the outside for weeks, but this is the first time I've actually seen it.

It's just so beautiful to know that there is a tiny miracle growing inside me.

I'm also very thankful for the BEAUTIFUL weather we've been having this week. It's a little hot for my personal taste (mid-80s), but it sure is nice to have a week without rain, rain, and more rain.

On another note, I've been thinking about starting to write some photography tips. I know of a few other bloggers who write photography tips on their non-photography blog and I was wondering if that is something you all would be interested in, so....let me know. Or if you think I should leave all things photography on my photography blog, you can let me know your feelings on that too. :)

And as a final note today, I'd like to give the VERY LAST WARNING that this blog will soon be found only at and NOT at I know that several of you come from bookmarked pages or linked pages from your own (or someone else's) blogroll, so please check to make sure you have the blogspot address down so you can find me later. :)

I hope you're having sunny weather wherever you are! Happy Thursday!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Money Monday . . . Freebies and links

According to Money Saving Mom, you can get a free treatment at a participating salon on Wednesday, May 20th. You must go here to print the invite.

The Indiana Salons that are participating are:
4659 3 82ND STREET
1300 E 86TH STREET

And don't forget that Meijer is still having amazing deals this week until Wednesday. Go here to see coupon and deal match ups.

And if you have never heard of House, you should visit their website and check them out. Right now they are accepting applications for a Domino's pizza party where you get a $75.00 gift card to throw a pizza party. I have blogged about my previous parties on my other blog - you can hear about my Fisher Price party and Saturn party here.

Know of anymore fun deals going on? Leave a comment and let us know!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Foto Friday!

My favorite day is here again! This picture came from a session yesterday and I LOVE LOVE LOVE it to death. It reminds me of a Gap ad or something. The laughter, the tickling...the tickling, the laughter. It's just so cute.

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Have a great weekend, everyone!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Way Behind

Yesterday I was absolutely going to post a picture of our kids' bathtub for a WFMW post.

But I didn't because, well....I was cleaning and planning dinner and balancing the checkbook and paying bills and having friends over in an attempt to talk about cameras (but really, with 6 kids between us, why would we even bother?) and trying to process pictures for an order that needs to go out this week and grocery shopping and picking up pizza for "date night".

Today I was definitely going to put up a Thankful Thursday post (although I honestly had no idea what exactly it was going to say).

But I didn't because, well....I was still cleaning and working on pictures and trying to recover from my lack of sleep last night due to the CRAZY wind/rainstorm we had for several hours early this morning and babysitting and doing a photo shoot and trying to get my daughter to nap and placing a picture order online and organizing my kitchen cupboards and pantry and processing more pictures and trying to come up with clever clues to give my husband about our upcoming vacation.

Tomorrow - even though I have a doctor's appointment and my two oldest kids have a play date and I have to figure out what to give for a birthday present on Saturday and start getting ready for our "Guess Who's Coming To Dinner?" guests on Saturday evening and try a loaf of french bread in the breadmaker and pay a few more bills and balance the checkbook again - will be easy.

Fridays are always easy. I just pull up my Flickr account, grab one of my favorite pictures from the past week and post it here for all the world to see! Ahh, how I love Fridays. apologies for seriously slacking this week. I swear the month of May gets busier and busier every year. (As if that were even possible.)

Since I promised you a picture of our wee one in the oven (that's figurative - calm down), here is the best picture we got from our ultrasound last week:

Full Profile Body

I know. It's not even that great. I was pretty disappointed with the few pictures we received, but...oh well. We'll see our little one when he/she arrives in September!

I hope you all are enjoying this week! Is May as crazy for you as it is for me??

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Tasty Tuesday - The BEST Cinnamon Rolls On Earth

It was really funny that Gretchen just posted this exact recipe on her other blog just a few days ago when I was already planning to post it here today, but...oh well.

Plus, I have a picture. So there. =P

Seriously though, these cinnamon rolls are AHH-mazing. And I'm not just saying that because I'm pregnant! I know some non-pregnant people who happen to think they are amazing as well! :)

The recipe is entitled "Clone of a Cinnabon", but I wouldn't let that fool you. Personally, I don't think these taste much like a Cinnabon at all. But I digress.

This recipe is for a breadmaker, but there are easy alterations (can I even use that word when referring to cooking?) to be had for non-breadmaker-ers.

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  • 1 cup warm milk (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • 1/3 cup margarine, melted
  • 4 1/2 cups bread flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons bread machine yeast
  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup butter, softened
  • 1 (3 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt


  1. Place ingredients in the pan of the bread machine in the order recommended by the manufacturer. Select dough cycle; press Start.
  2. After the dough has doubled in size turn it out onto a lightly floured surface, cover and let rest for 10 minutes. In a small bowl, combine brown sugar and cinnamon.
  3. Roll dough into a 16x21 inch rectangle. Spread dough with 1/3 cup butter and sprinkle evenly with sugar/cinnamon mixture. Roll up dough and cut into 12 rolls. Place rolls in a lightly greased 9x13 inch baking pan. Cover and let rise until nearly doubled, about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).
  4. Bake rolls in preheated oven until golden brown, about 15 minutes. While rolls are baking, beat together cream cheese, 1/4 cup butter, confectioners' sugar, vanilla extract and salt. Spread frosting on warm rolls before serving.
Now, I don't really care for cream cheese in my icing, so I just skipped the cream cheese and added enough milk to make the consistency I was looking for. But if you like cream cheese icing, my guest.

If you don't believe me when I say that these are the best things on earth, you can click here to go to the recipe link where you can read reader reviews! :)

Mmmmm! I might just have to go eat one now!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Money Monday - Garage Sales

Well, I posted on Thursday about our Financial Recap for the month of April. I probably should have saved that for today, but...ehhh....oh well.

Today I'm going to talk about garage sale-ing. And yes - for today - "sale-ing" is a word.

I LOVE garage sales. Like, it's an addiction. Well, no...that's not true. But I do love them. I think I love them for a few reasons:

1. My mom and I used to go garage sale-ing when I was a kid.

2. Garage sales have perfectly good things for perfectly cheap prices. A frugal woman's favorite!

3. Garage sales have things that are no longer in print, being made, or that are widely available to the public. Like those darling metal Tonka trucks.

4. Garage sale-ing is a great, fun way to get some exercise! (Read: neighborhood sales.)

5. Garage sale-ing is an inexpensive activity that can occupy your whole family. (Well, maybe not your husband...but most of your family.) :)

Now, there is one major danger to garage sale-ing.

Some people just buy things because, well, they want to and - IT'S SUCH A GREAT PRICE! But if it's not something you need, don't buy it. It will likely just sit in your house/garage/shed until you decide to try to sell it in your own garage sale....ineffectively. Unless you're one of those master Ebay sellers, skip the stuff you don't need.

I have found that keeping a running list of things I'm going to look for at a garage sale has been so helpful. For example, when I went out a few weekends ago, my list looked something like this:

photo props
girls shoes, size 7-9
boys shoes, size 9-11
girls clothes, size 3T and up

It was really great because it allowed me to keep my priorities in mind. If I saw something that wasn't on my list and didn't think it needed to be added to my list, I didn't get it. (At least...for the most part.) :)

Are you a garage sale-er?
Do you find garage sales an efficient use of your time and money?
What are your garage sale-ing techniques?

Also, as a preview for tomorrow, stay tuned for the BEST cinnamon roll recipe on earth!

Friday, May 8, 2009

Foto Friday!

I really wanted to post a picture from my ultrasound yesterday, but as the day draws to an end and I have not the energy to go upstairs just to scan in the pictures, you will be left with a bit of something else.....

Two of my dear sweet children:

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But please, it would make me ever so happy if you would go to my photography blog and view my brand spanking new studio which my husband lovingly made for me! Just scroll down a few posts to see the actual studio or stay near the top to see new photos I took in it. :)

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Get Your Finances In Line In 2009: April Recap

April was a decent month for us, but not spectacular. Especially when I view it in light of March, which was a FANTASTIC month financially. Nevertheless, we're still making headway.

We completed our vacation fund (which is good, because that's only 3 weeks away!) and raised the level of our FFEF a bit. The way the checks lined up this month was not ideal for our savings account, so this month will probably be better than April. Also, now that we're done saving for our vacation, we can put that extra into our FFEF or the savings for my hubby's car!

My husband's review is also coming up and it would be great if he got a raise, but in this economy I'm not really expecting one.

We are still running behind on #7 and #8. I don't know why I feel like it will take SO much time to set those things up as I'm sure it really won't, but....anyway, it's on the list, so we WILL get to it. Hopefully sooner rather than later.

Ok, here are the updates for the month of April - not necessarily in order:

Goal #1: Save up and pay CASH for our 5-day vacation to *SURPRISE* in June! :) ---- 100% completed ----

Goal #2: Fully fund our 6 month emergency fund and put into a money market account to be left UNTOUCHED unless there is an actual emergency. ---- 32.3% completed ----

Goal #3: Save for my husband to get a new (that means "used") car.

Goal #4: Raise retirement contributions to 12% (with a 4% match).

Goal #5: Open a money market account for each of our children.

Goal #6: Begin paying extra principal on our mortgage.

Goal #7: Establish a will and testament. (I know - shame on us for not having one yet!)

Goal #8: Get disability insurance for both my husband and me.

I'd also like to share - and I may have done this before - how we "do" savings, so in case any of you are struggling here perhaps this will help you out....

My husband works two jobs. His FedEx paycheck is direct-deposited every Friday (after about 40% of it goes directly toward health insurance). The other 60% goes into our checking and is a nice buffer in between the times his other check arrives - which is every other Tuesday. That check is also direct-deposited, but a set amount goes into our savings account automatically so we never even see it. (Until, of course, I write this monthly post!) The rest goes into our checking.

At the end of each month, if we have extra money left over in our checking account, most of that also goes into our savings. (I keep a small buffer zone there for the small just-in-case incidents.)

If you're just starting out with this concept of saving, I'd encourage you to try automatic directing of your money. Ten percent is the standard of what most people will tell you to save regularly. But if that sounds like too much, start with 5%. If you can't do 5%, start with 2%.


And when you or your spouse gets a raise, consider adding whatever the difference is in your paycheck to what's automatically rerouted to your savings account. It's a great way to never even notice a difference!

How do you operate your savings account(s)?

What ways have you found to be effective for your family and your budget?

Thankful Thursday

Today is a random mixture of all areas of my life. And if you look back to my last post, you'll find that Tuesday was an extremely exhausting day for me.

My thankfuls:

1. My studio is complete! A BIG "Thank You" goes out to my husband who never reads this blog but has already been thanked several times over. (You can check out my photography blog to see pictures of the completed studio and some shots I've taken in it this week.)

2. I have my ultrasound today! No, we're not finding out the gender but I love ultrasounds just the same. :) And yes, I'll share pictures of our wee one.

3. Our vacation is coming up soon! In just 3 short weeks, we'll be headed out of town for a wedding and then onto our vacation - just me and the hubster! Ahhh, I can't wait.....

4. It's spring! The weather has been warm enough to keep the heat off and cool enough to keep the air off! Well, gets a little chilly in the early morning, but that's what blankets are for, right? :)

5. My dishwasher has been emptied and filled. The pots and pans have been washed. I got a shower. The laundry has been washed and folded. The checkbook has been balanced. :)

6. Our little baby is over halfway grown! Today marks 21 weeks for me and, not that I've ever had pregnancy problems before but, it's still refreshing to be in the home stretch. For the little one's sake, I mean. :)

Anything you're extra thankful for this week?

Tuesday, May 5, 2009


My dishwasher needs emptied. My dishwasher needs filled. The pots and pans need washed. I need a shower. The laundry needs folded. The bathrooms need cleaned. The shelves need built. The checkbook needs balanced. The other checkbook needs balanced. The dinners need planned.

....and I'm going to bed. :)

Monday, May 4, 2009

Tasty Tuesday . . . Some Favorite Bread Machine Reicpes

Heidi talked about getting a new-to-her bread maker last week. I have had my new-to-me bread maker for almost a year now and I love it and I use it multiple times a week. I thought I might list some of my favorite recipes that I have used and do use quite a bit in case you might like to try some of them.

English Muffins - well worth the time and MUCH better than store bought!

Buttery Bread Machine Rolls - the BEST rolls ever, seriously my family requests that I bring them to every gathering (sorry no picture)

Pizza Dough
- my new favorite recipe - actually titled "Kittencal's Best Garlic Pizza Dough for the bread machine"

Whole Wheat Hamburger and Hot Dog buns (I used them with my sloppy joes)

Bread Machine Donuts - all I have to say is YUMMY!

Pita Bread - easy and very good!

So there you go, some fun things to try in your bread maker besides bread. Can you tell I like my bread maker? How about you? What are some of your favorite bread machine recipes?

For more kitchen tips and recipes please check out Tempt My Tummy Tuesday at Blessed with Grace and I am Blissfully Domestic at Blissfully Domestic and Tasty Tuesday.

Happy Baking,

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Money Monday . . . K-mart deals again!

According to the current sales flyer, K-mart is tripling coupons up to $0.75 and doubling coupons $0.76 to $2.00 for this week.

For some deal ideas, please visit Common Sense with Money.

Did anyone make it there the last time they had this deal going?

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Foto Friday!

It's here again!

I know I normally post people pictures, but I made this collage of the red buds and I think they are one of the most beautiful trees (trees? bushes?) on earth,'re gettin' some nature this week!

Purple Tree Collage

Have a great weekend, everyone!