Sunday, August 29, 2010


This week's photo challenge is so perfect.  Well, at least my entry is so fitting.  Let me explain.  I have this friend, Carissa who has been living at our house for the last  7 months.  Carissa is the sister to an air force friend and has been dating one of John's best friends, Karl (Notch).  They got engaged since she's been living here with us.  It's been such a blessing to have her here for so many reasons.  She has been an amazing friend and someone that I can always talk to.  In fact, when she first moved in I was almost exhausted at having her here because every conversation we'd have was really deep and it took it out of me after a few days of our gab-fests.  She is a lot like me, kinda hippy and laid back but has a very organized and busy side of her that I've also benefited from.  She has been such a help since I was pregnant and now mommy of two and would always be busy picking up here and cleaning up there.  My kitchen has never been so clean and it'll definitely be an adjustment in my near future.  Anyway- she's a great friend. 

I took engagement shots of them a couple months ago.  It was such a laid back and fun time and I think they both enjoyed the whole shoot too.  I caught this series of shots toward the end of our shoot and it just shows how cute and playful they are and the heart of service that Karl has.  This is such the perfect time to showcase these pictures since they are getting married in LESS THAN A WEEK!!   Congrats you two- I've been pulling for you all along!  Can't wait to see you finally tie the knot (and get that girl outta my house!)..  Love you!

Check out the other photojournalism entries over at


Friday, August 27, 2010

Editing Fun Day (ie: Fix it Friday)

While feeding baby girl, I had just enough time to fit a quick edit into a busy day.  I just got some actions loaded into my CS3 program so I was messing with those as well as a few techniques I picked up in the magazine I bought last week.

Maybe you know the drill by now..  Here is the SOOC shot.

Here's my fix.
  • I cropped and rotated just a tad cuz I felt like the girl was falling over.  
  • Then I ran the Sunshine Action from Pioneer Woman
  • Ran PW's Boost action too.  That created the feel that I wanted but now to tackle the boring sky.
  • I need to preface with I had no idea what I was doing and probably had no business with this effect since I didn't and still don't really understand it.  But I went to Filter>Render>Cloud Difference which put a bunch of dark splotchy patches all over the picture.  
  • I created a layers mask to leave the splotches only in the sky and then 
  • I did a gradient layer to give the splotches the color I wanted and 
  • Set blending mode to color.
  • Then I played with a kinda funky border by using new brushes I downloaded
  • And finished it off with a quick boost using Unsharp Mask (Amount- 20%, Pixels- 80) and brought down the opacity a touch.
Check out the other edits for this picture at Iheartfaces
Have a great weekend!


Wednesday, August 25, 2010

It's My Bag, Baby

Back in Utah, I made some girls flight suit purses made from a desert flight suit.  I LOVED THEM!!  So much that a friend of mine offered to let me have one of her husband's desert flight suits so I could make myself the much desired bag.  Well, John put an axe through that idea and said that I am not allowed to make myself a desert bag unless it's out of HIS desert flight suit.  Up till then I was always happy that he hadn't gone to the desert yet but once the stipulations were set I wanted him to hop the pond and get on over there!!!  So he finally did, as you might remember a couple months back for the end of my pregnancy and even missed the birth of our daughter.  It was all worth it though, because I got my desert flight suit and subsequently my *New* Messenger bag!  I special ordered the fabric from and it was expensive.  I have never and will never again spend that much money per yard on fabric!  But for the occasion it was worth it to me! 

I squeezed this in so that I could proceed with confidence with Messenger bag orders since this was only the second one I've made- the first being for my dear SIL, Pamcakes.  Besides, I make a lot of bags for other people and every now and then I just need to take a quick break and ground myself by doing something that I want to do.  Maybe that's selfish but I've found that it really helps me keep going.

Check out my new bag and if you've never checked out my website, head on over to and marvel at my brother's amazing web design skills!


Sunday, August 22, 2010

Beach Fun Photo Challenge

This is a little bit of a throwback but since the beach isn't my back yard, I had to dig a little for an entry photo for this week's photo challenge at!  Uhhhg.  When you dig through old pictures, do you cringe?  Don't get me wrong, it's a good memory and I love seeing my son so much younger and just so kissably cute, but I am just so unimpressed with them since back then I really didn't know what I was doing (I still don't have a clue but at least I know more than then).  On a happier note- I just love babies playing in sand.  I remember when I was a little girl and how fascinated I was with the stuff.  It's like dirt- but way better!!!  You can dig in it for hours and all you have to do is brush it off and it's gone.  Ahhh- childhood.  It's a beautiful thing! 

Check out the other amazing beach photos at I heart faces

Saturday, August 21, 2010

3 months

My oh my, how time just flies. I can not believe that this precious little thing is already 3 months old!!   I think her blocked tear duct has finally cleared up!!  They say that 20% of infants have a blocked tear duct, but 100% of mine have and I'm just thrilled that the windows to her soul are now sparkly clean!   I love the infant stage of the helpless little lumps but right around this time is when it get's fun in my opinion! I love how she smiles just at making eye contact and how she has already adopted two fingers as her favorites- it's her ring and middle fingers that are found in sucking position most of the time.  I love how I never know which direction she'll be facing when I get her from her crib since she's such an active lil girl. She has just started rolling. Even though I've seen her do it more than once, I still think once she rolls, she's confused about her change in scenery... and how to get back. But my absolute favorite thing is watching her look at her brother so adoringly.  Riley doesn't have a clue what a sweet little tag along he'll have!

And how about the new blog stuff I'm doing!?  Okay, so the only one who probably notices is me and my mom because I call her and make her check it out.  But I spent the day working on my new blog banner up at the top.  I'm pretty proud of it because I tried my hand at it like a year ago and came up short so the fact that it actually worked this time either means I'm getting more Photoshop literate or the blogger website just made it idiot proof.  And also I just update my blog's editor and now pictures are much easier to upload and look how BIG you can have them!!!  Very nice!  It might be obnoxiously big, but like my brother with a 72" (exaggeration?) TV, it won't stop me!!  Mom- you'll have to switch over too...  or I'll just do it for you.


Friday, August 20, 2010

Another Fix it Friday

John and I got in a discussion this week over Photoshop. He hates it. He thinks it's cheating and that I (and all photographers) should be able to set up the perfect shot, utilize the camera settings and be able to take the image from the camera into a frame. "Ansel Adams did it," he argued. No doubt Ansel Adams was amazingly talented but I am sure even he did some manipulating (not Photoshop, but the equivalent of the time) of his finished pictures to get the contrast just perfect... I don't know. It all started because I bought a $30 Photoshop Magazine from Costco. So his whole argument was that it's fake and not the way his eye saw it when looking through the lens. Valid point I guess. I, on the other hand like to get the most out of my pictures and because I am still learning about the camera, the pictures aren't always perfect. Photoshop can serve as what used to be a dark room, correcting exposure, contrast, etc and why not sharpen it up here and give a little tweak there. I don't see anything wrong with that. But the best part is when I asked him why he thinks I look beautiful wearing makeup. After all, my eye lids aren't really that smokey color that I paint up there, and with his other argument it's unnatural... His response- cricket... cricket. Chalk it up as a win for yours truly (disclaimer: I don't really count wins/losses in our marriage)!!

With my little victory, I feel justified in putting my time to a little "Fix it Friday" action over at!
Here's the SOOC (straight out of camera) shot- pretty cute as is...

But what happens if we crop a little, clean it up (ie: take out the wispy hair in her face) add some sharpening and a little gausian blur for the skin.
I like that. Now let's warm it up a little with a warming photo filter. And let's be honest. That twig that looks like it's sticking out of her ear- it's gotta go!!

Ahh. Better. And this one is just playing with a sunlight effect. I love the lens flare I added. I think it's a neat effect. I can almost feel the warmth of the sun and smell that fresh summer's eve air. **BTW- This is so against my husband's taste

And just for fun, here are a couple with added textures.
This one has a linen texture. You might need to zoom in to see it.

And this one I used cracked paint.
Kinda fun!
So how do you feel about Photoshop? Just curious since my debate this week.

By the way- check out the other amazing edits over at I ♥ faces!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The BIG 2

Happy Birthday to my sweet and lovable (most of the time) little boy!!!

I was actually sick last weekend when we did the b-day party and I did NOTHING. I almost didn't even go. But a big thanks to my hubby for taking the brunt of the work and Tiff for making the delicious desert and Karl (I guess Malia too) for letting us use his house.

The other kiddos with the look of desire in their eyes, waiting patiently as Riley's eats his birthday cake.
This is what it resorted to. I guess the spoon and the hands just weren't getting the job done fast enough.
He has been dragging this thing with him EVERYWHERE!! Thanks Unky Bunch!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Happiest Place on Earth

I think it would be even happier if I had older kids... But they were free tickets so whatever.

Any guesses where we went?

Saturday, August 14, 2010

My Picks

I've been mentally composing this post for a while now but since I never seem to just get it out, (knuckles cracking) here we go.

What defines you.. as a mother, a wife, a daughter and just a woman in general (Sorry to any guys reading this, but this one is geared for my female friends)? I realize this question is deeper than you and I really care to delve into, especially on the world wide web. In short, I know who I am and more importantly I know who I want to be. Since I became a Christian, I've rediscovered books. Not just any books but (I guess they're categorized) "self-help" books to be more specific. When I was getting married, I submerged myself in successful marriage how to books. When I was pregnant with Ri, I dove back in but this time with parenting in mind. These books have given me a sense of confidence when I didn't deserve to have any, a sense of peace in the midst of kaos and just an over all sense of well-being. In my quest, I have been racking up a list of favorites that I would recommend to others. These books have shaped me into the mother/wife/woman I am today but even more they set a bar for self improvement and give me a tangible path to who I want to become. I realize that much of this content is subjective and there really is no "right vs. wrong" but the message in these books are right for me and my family. That does not mean it's right for everyone though. Without further adieu, here are my picks!

This is the book given to John and I from the officiant who married us for some pre-marriage counseling. During our engagement, John and I were litterally oceans apart. He was in Korea and so when I visited, we met a couple times with Chaplain Youstra for counseling but that was it. No extensive meetings so he gave the book to supliment the little counseling that we were able to do. This book helped me understand men and specifically, my man more. I learned the "golden rule" growing up.. Do onto others as you would have done to you. However, that is not the case when it comes to the opposite sex in a marriage relationship. What I want, to snuggle, to talk, to have his affection- he does not hold as dear as I do. His needs are different than mine! This was a great and eye opening book. It used a metaphor of a "love bank" and how everything you do is either depositing into your spouses love bank or withdrawing. John and I still kid about making a deposit in the "love bank!" This was our favorite marriage book we read and I did say we. John read it with me- which should speak volumes about the book.

This is similar to the above but it talked about everyone having a specific "love language" in which they give and receive love. For example, some people feel loved by gifts and others by time spent. This helped me evaluate what my love language is and what John's love language is so that we can understand each other better and we communicate effectively.

This book was derived from the movie "Fireproof." If you haven't seen it, you should. OK, the acting is a little cheesy but it's a refreshing movie that highlights virtuous marriage and urges not to give up in a sea of movies that make divorce look like the cool thing to do. This is kind of a daily devotional which just has small little excerpts everyday and gives you something to ponder throughout your day and even little challenges to do for your spouse. During the dating days, it's those small things that let you know that the other person cares and many times in a marriage the business of life sometimes cloud out those small things. It's fun to do the daily challenges and you're spouse will love all the attention they get from this and by the time the book is over, some of the sweet things you've done for the past month is committed to habit. Besides after you go through it, you can give it to your man and then you can be on the receiving end of all the love and sweet things done by your hubby!


I am a baby wise mom! I've learned since having a child and being introduced in the mommy world that Baby Wise is somewhat controversial. The premise behind the book is to get your child on a flexible schedule. Kids need order and structure and this provides both you and your child with that order. After my own experience and talking with other "Baby Wise" mom's, it never goes by the book but some principles can be applied and may help in your family dynamic. All I know is that I have two kids now and both of them have been sleeping through the night (from 10pm to 7am) by 9 weeks of age and because I am not one that does well without sleep, that is the best tangible plug I can give for the book!

Anther controversial book.. I'm on a roll. I am an advocate of James Dobson and the Focus on the Family Institute. Check out more on Focus on the Family here. I am not opposed to spanking. There. I said it. Don't judge me. That being said, I am not about to start wailing on my kids every time they annoy me or make me mad. In fact, that's the thing... Dobson's discipline style is to discipline out of love, NOT anger! He talks about different forms of correction, spanking being among the options, that need to be performed swiftly and lovingly. There are things that kids will do that you know better than they do and it's for their own good that they listen to you... but sometimes they don't. And unfortunately kids don't respond to reason and good intentions. I am just hitting the very tip of the iceberg in the whole willful defiance stage. This has always been my biggest fear of being a parent, is dealing with "bratty kids" and because it is what I have looked forward to the least, I've really been reading up on it to know how I am going to handle it. So take from it what you will. The Focus on the Family website also has tons of book recommendations on all different topics that you can check out.

This book is a very recent read for me. I have found that I actually LOVE Kevin Leman's parenting style. It makes the most sense to me. He is a loving and nurturing parent but not so sheltering that his children are left to make poor decisions once they are on their own. It is a balance of decisions and consequences which is a very real world concept. I know Kevin Leman has another popular book, "Have a new Kid by Friday" which I haven't read but I would recommend just based on this book. I'm sure it's more of the same thing... consistency, loving discipline, mean what you say and say what you mean! One practical suggestion I can recall is when you're kid refuses to clean his room, simply tell him that's ok and it's his choice. Then "hire" someone (even a younger sibling) to clean his room and take the money from his allowance. It's a real world way to handle the situation and I'd bet that he'll keep his room clean after that. I will be referring to this book over and over in the coming years!

This is a really fun book if you're looking for something fun to do with your toddler. There are TONS of craft ideas complete with a supply list and instructions for every day, no matter the weather. There are also great ideas like keeping a little To Go toy bag that you can grab on your way out the door to dinner at your kid-less friend's house or a special bag of goodies for when you're trying to cook dinner and the kids are demanding your attention. Many of these crafts are great for development and I've learned that they don't always go as I anticipate but I just roll with it and I think Riley still gets something out of it. The author of the book, Trish Koffner also has a busy book for preschoolers and one for physical activities too.

I was given this book as a gift when I moved from Ohio to Utah and was getting married. At the time, I looked at it and chuckled thinking "great... another book to collect dust on my selves." Don't get me wrong- it was a great gift for me because I am not an organized person by nature. But I've lived my life thus far just fine and maybe at times I'm in denial of the disarray I cause myself (good thing I married the best organizer on the planet). So the book collected dust on my book shelf for years! But after I had Riley, I'm not sure what provoked me but I pulled it out and started to look through it. This book is a gem! There are tons of quick read chapters (for the busy mom who can't find the time to sit down and read much) with great organizing tips. It covers anything from cleaning your house to finances to holidays and more. I liked that there are tons of tips on parenting too. Like how to get your kids to help out around the home, teaching them about money, summer projects to keep them busy and the dreaded preparing for travel with kids. The tips are quick but powerful. There are lists and how to's that make what feels like a big undertaking seem very manageable!

So there you have it. These are the books that have kept me sane over the years and that I will refer to as I approach loosing sanity in the coming years! I hope that some of you find this useful and if not, at least you have an idea of why I do the things I do.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Fix it Friday: I Heart Faces

So like the fun photo challenge every Monday, the folks over at also do a picture editing challenge on friday's. They give you a SOOC shot and you may edit it as you wish.

Here is the SOOC (straight out of camera) picture

Here's my CS3 only edit
And then I messed around in Lightroom

Gosh- I don't even know all that I did. Obviously I cropped the photo to get rid of random kid's shoulder on the right.

In Photoshop CS3:
  • I sharpened the eyes, hair and mouth
  • Softened his skin via inverting high pass which took away a little of the undereye color
  • ran Pioneer Woman's Boost action
  • Did some dodge/burn effect with the eyes to give them depth
Then I went to Lightroom (I've only got 1 day left on my free trial- booooo):
  • I ran the aged photo preset and tweaked that
  • boosted saturation in the lips a little
  • gave it a vignette (I ♥ the vignette feature in Lightroom- it's rad!)

And there you have it. I went a little more dramatic than I do for everyday, but why not. It was for editing practice and did I mention that my free trail for PS Lightroom is just about up??? I had to mess around in there one last time.