Getting an early start on the holidays…

Today I decided to get an early start on the Holidays and ordered our Christmas Cards! I used Shutterfly and I love how they turned out. I think they look like artwork! And you all know how I love a deal, so I used 2 coupon codes: 40% off holiday cards (code: holiday) and free shipping on orders of over $30 (code: ship30)…my order of 50 cards went from $97 to $57. Score!

Also, this past weekend Nina (grandma) came to visit. ((“Nina” used to be called “Nana,” but when McKenzie was a wee toddler she couldn’t pronounce Nana, so she’s been Nina ever since.)) Anyhow, we had a girl’s morning and went to the farmer’s market together with McKenzie, while daddy stayed homeand did homework. McKenzie had a ton of fun climbing a tree on the Capitol Square, and Nina got some delicious, local whipped honey. Yummmmm. And as you can see, they maintain the grass very well there…it’s so green. =)

At the last farmer’s market of the year with Momma & Nina.

Later that day, after Nina left, we made the 2 hour drive up to Wausau to visit Jon’s cousin and his family. I just love to see McKenzie play with her cousins, and frankly it’s fun to get just out of the house and chat with other adults.

I also love visiting their house simply because they have such a lovely home. It makes me SO excited to buy a house someday. I love that we own our condo, but I can’t wait to have my own home and yard. It will be so nice when I can just let the dogs out the back door! *sigh* Someday. So tell me you guys: is home-ownership everything it’s cracked up to be?

A break from all things political…

Here is a short, heartwarming story…at least I think so:
When I arrived at school today, McKenzie’s co-teacher approached me and said, “I just have to tell you something that happened last week. We were all walking back to the classroom from outside, and I fell behind because of my bad leg. All the students and the other teacher were already around the corner, and McKenzie came back for me and said ‘Don’t worry Miss Mary, I’ll wait for you.’ I just had to tell you, she is such a little treasure. The most genuinely caring child I’ve ever met.” This woman has been a teacher for 30+ years…talk about making a momma proud! Maybe it’s because her Daddy’s a Marine: “leave no man behind.” Haha. ;) But seriously, I am so thankful for that little princess. She is literally our pride & joy.

A fun weekend & a new (big) purchase.

I have so much fun just getting out of the house as a family and enjoying our city. Saturday morning we went to the Farmer’s Market on the Capitol Square (for those not familiar with Madison, the entire block around the Capitol building is full of local farmers…at least a quarter mile around).  It’s a blast just to walk around and sample foods/buy fresh fruits & veggies. After walking around, we went out to eat at one of our favorite restaurants, “The Old Fashioned,” where we enjoyed local Wisconsin fare, including Beer Cheese Soup and deep-fried cheese curds with ranch dipping sauce…it sounds gross, but it’s SO delicious. In fact, that was my only craving during my pregnancy with McKenzie. Haha.

I had a photo session scheduled at 4, so after our scrumptious meal I headed out since it was an hour away. I got some fun shots, here is my favorite family photo (below). The little boy was having a hard day…I’ve never photographed a baby that didn’t like me! You can see  the concern on his face. He’d cry whenever I got near! Oh well. I still think they turned out nicely.

In other news, I’ve been looking for a workout buddy for awhile now, to no avail. *sigh* Having someone to workout with really helps keep me accountable and motivated! It’s a big help. BUT, then I thought: “Well, if I had a treadmill in my house, I would literally have no excuse.” So with my hubby’s blessing (what husband would say no to that), I went out and bought a treadmill. I love running when I can get into it…even walking would be helpful at this point. I’ve been inexcusably sedentary lately. Probably due to my notorious Netflix addiction. Haha.

ANYWAY, after McKenzie was born, I lost all the weight very quickly (36lbs total…thanks to the aforementioned cheese curds) just by walking/running 2 miles a day on our treadmill. Just 2 miles while she was napping. Very easy. But for some reason (I seriously don’t remember), we sold it. Soooo I went out to buy one with 2 major criteria in mind: it had to have incline, and it had to fold up to save space. I settled on the Lifespan 1200i (which was on sale for $999, originally $1,599).

I really love it so far, and it is very high quality…much better than our last one, which was a ProForm. The motor is much quieter,  so I’m sure our condo neighbors will love that. And I love that it has incline/speed buttons on the arms of it. It’s an incredibly convenient feature. My starting goal is just 2 miles/day. I think that’s really manageable, and it will be doable with McKenzie in the house. Score! If anyone has any good running routines/tips, feel free to let me know! Or even healthy (and tasty!) meal ideas, I’m lookin’ for those too. =)

Starting a New Family Tradition & An Easy Pumpkin Seed Recipe

Can you believe McKenzie is four and we’ve never carved pumpkins? We’ve done the whole pumpkin-picking-&-hayride-on-a-farm thing, but we’ve never actually gotten around to carving the pumpkins…until now. Didn’t they turn out cute?

2012 Pumpkins: Daddy, Momma, McKenzie

So our new tradition is carving pumpkins while watching Hocus Pocus (albeit, it’s a little above McKenzie’s age group right now). Regardless, we had a blast. I think traditions make holidays so much more fun, don’t you? Do you have any fun traditions for Halloween?

Anyhow, of course we saved all the seeds and baked them…what a treat! If you don’t know the recipe:

  1. Preheat oven to 400°.
  2. Boil the pumpkin seeds with 1 tsp salt for 10 min.
  3. Spread seeds over a greased baking sheet and salt generously.
  4. Bake for 15 minutes (I like mine crispy.)

They were SO good…it tasted like popcorn…YUM. And it’s healthy too! Lots of fiber. ;)

A Fire Truck Parade.

We are fortunate to live in Madison, an amazing college town where the community is super-involved and there are always TONS of fun events planned. This past Sunday, there was a firetruck parade from campus to the Capitol building. Since McKenzie currently wants to be a firefighter when she grows up, it was the perfect thing to do on a Sunday afternoon!

There were over 30 trucks from surrounding cities. During the parade, the firemen passed out candy, and afterward, the trucks surrounded the Capitol Square and they opened up the trucks and put up the ladders so the public could have a peek. McKenzie even got to sit in two firetrucks! She had a blast. Annnd she got to roll down the hill at the Capitol with her awesome Daddy. =)

How to scar your child for life…

Yesterday, I got the great idea to decorate for Halloween. Nothing big, I just wanted to get some festive vinyl window stickers and some spider webbing for our balcony. Fun, right? Wrong. Little did I know, I was permanently scarring my child for life…or maybe a week. Whoops! =/ Bad momma moment #5192.

The second McKenzie and I walked in the door of our local “Party City,” we were greeted by a giant, creepy, robed creature with exposed brains jumping out at us. Yikes! I should turned and walked out when that happened, but I kept shopping anyway…she seemed fine.

As we perused the store, searching for those damn vinyl stickers, she got more and more scared as she slowly realized what everything was. The giant, moaning mummy. The zombie with worms coming out of its eyes. Skulls and tombstones. Severed hands, feet, and eyeballs strewn about. I mean, you guys, this place was decked out. Creepy as hell. For a 4-year-old, this was the equivalent of taking her to a really good haunted house.

I’m not gonna lie, I thought it was a little comical at first, but then she started getting legitimately scared and shaking. (!) She said (in the most pathetic, terrified 4-year old voice she could muster), “This place is freaking me out. It’s spooky!” Soooooo I picked her up and carried her, while assuring her that everything was pretend. After I eventually found the window decals (99¢ for a sheet of 15!) and spider webbing, and we got out of there ASAP. Needless to say, I won’t be taking her there (at Halloween) again.

Have you (or your kid) ever been seriously freaked out by something at Halloween? (Mine has! Ha.)


DIY Chalkboard Tutorial

A fellow photographer (Megan at Megan Ramminger Photography) used some chalkboards in a recent photoshoot…and it turned out so cute! So of course I had to give it a try…after all, “imitation is the ultimate form of flattery.” Or so they say.

Anyway, I can’t believe how incredibly simple and inexpensive this project was! For around $20 (and that’s very conservative) I was able to make 5 chalkboards (3 are pictured)…and I would have made more if I had more frames! There was plenty of chalkboard paint left. Here are the materials & steps:


  • Wooden picture frames (I found these at Goodwill for $1.99 each)
  • Chalkboard paint (I got mine at Home Depot, $9.79)
  • Newspaper (to avoid a mess!)
  • Paintbrushes
  • Hammer
  • Nails (and maybe a pliers & screwdriver to remove staples from the frames.)


  1. Open backing and remove photos or pictures from frames. The ones pictured had staples in them, so I used a flat screwdriver to pry them up and pliers to get them out. Keep cardboard backing for later use.
  2. Carefully take out glass and set it on the newspaper…start painting the glass! Be sure you have adequate ventilation.
  3. Do 3 coats, let dry completely between coats.
  4. Once dry, place glass back in the frames, followed by the cardboard, and reattach backing. If the previous photo was held in by staples, use 4 small nails and hammer in securely (see photo below). Be careful, thinner frames might crack, so be very gentle!
  5. And you’re done! According to the paint can, let the paint set for 3 days and then your new chalkboard is ready! Condition the surface of the chalkboard before use by rubbing the entire surface with the side of a piece of chalk. This will provide the best erasability.

I plan on using these chalkboards for my photography business, but the possibilities are endless! I also made one for McKenzie’s room, which is larger. I plan on making another one for our kitchen, too! Do you have any other ideas for a chalkboard? Gook luck!

Picture Day & A Quick Tip for Photographing Kiddos!

First of all, for those of you who offered kind words about yesterday’s “A Deathiversary” post, thank you so much. It truly means a lot. ♥

Well today was “picture day” at McKenzie’s school! Her first picture day ever. Do you remember picture day when you were a kid? I always looked forward to picture day. Anyhow, I had McKenzie’s outfit all picked out yesterday…and then she got all scratched up by our neighbor’s puppy. Across her chest, across her neck. Poor kid. It actually drew blood. I felt so bad for her. I originally had her in a white shirt, but then I decided to I dress her in a red shirt with a white vest, which strategically covered all of her scratches. See? We had a mini-photo session before we walked to school. I love that she gets to be my little muse.

The outfit below is the one that I originally had picked out for her picture day…darn it! I removed the scratches with Photoshop in these pics, but they were very visible. *sigh* We’ll see if her school picture turns out better than mine. Probably not. ;)

A quick tip for photographing children: Above all, make sure they’re having fun! Would you want to smile if you weren’t having fun? I wouldn’t! Whenever I have a session, I usually bring some fun things for kids to do. I’ve brought bubbles, bread to feed ducks, and chalk (to name a few). Kids are messy. Kids are carefree. Capture that. I feel like sometimes too much emphasis is placed on smiles and props. Sometimes simply playing is beautiful! That’s what I always try to emphasize in my photography: the child. Capture them as they are…they’re only little for awhile.

Do you have a picture day memory? Or maybe a funny story about a photo day? I’d love to hear it!

Any new lens suggestions y’all?

Alrighty. So I might have a slight addiction to my 50mm lens. I use it for everything…literally all my photo sessions, all the time. I like it a lot, okay?! And I bought it shortly after I got my camera, so I’m just pretty used to it.

That said, I am looking to branch out a wee bit. I’m thinking the Canon 24-70mm…but I didn’t realize it was SO expensive (like $2,300 expensive…I’d rather go on a tropical vacation with my entire family, thank-you-very-much!). I wasn’t looking to spend that much. Maybe $1,000, but definitely not double that. Well crap. Or maybe I should just look for a different, amazing prime lens? Like the 85mm or 100mm? Oh man. Decisions, decisions.

OR maybe I’ll just stick with my 50mm…people are always pleased with their photos, so why mess with a good thing, right? *le sigh*

Here are some fun photos from a family session this month.