I love those certain recipes where I can just stick something all into my bean pot, pop it in to the oven and forget about it. I especially enjoy the "pop it in the oven and forget it about it" meals on days that all four of my kids are in school (that only happens 2 days a week since my youngest is in part time kindergarten). It gives me the chance to do one of the other millions of things a mom has to keep up with! Or enjoy a quiet cup of tea while thumbing through the new Pottery Barn catalog...who needs clean laundry anyway!
I decided to dig through the internet and find a healthy white bean chicken chili recipe that I have never tried. In my house, if you announce to the kingdom of picky eaters that you are trying a new recipe its like they all go running from vampires, throw up their fingers in the cross symbol and put on their garlic necklaces in protest of trying something new. No...they do not make my job easy when it comes to trying new things.
I found this recipe online. I figured it didn't have a bunch of complicated ingredients that might make my family melt if they tried it and minus the cheese & sour cream (for me) it was polite to my waistline!
I made a couple minor tweaks to the recipe by adding in one extra can of white beans and one cup of fire roasted frozen corn from Trader Joes. Everything is hearty and healthy and with a fresh wheat baguette it becomes a meal that will fill up my man!
The most elbow grease that was put into this recipe was browning the meat...
and slow cooked in the oven on 325 for a couple hours! Way too simple!!
I bet your dying to know the verdict from my family...
Well, my youngest ended up eating a peanut butter and jelly sammy, the older girls had seconds and my husband said "save this recipe!!"
There was not a drop left at the bottom of my bean pot!!
I cant wait to try more recipes in my new bean pot. I think I am going to try applesauce next. What will my family think if they realize applesauce actually comes from apples and not out of a container that says Motts??? Dun-dun-dun-duuuun!!!
I hadn't until I received one from a friend who is a consultant for Celebrating Home. It is like a slow cooker for your oven. Way cool! Not to mention it is really pretty. The bean pot is hand painted/glazed and made from east Texas clay (woot woot! for USA materials!), it is also dishwasher, microwave and oven safe. Can I get an "amen" up in here for cool cooking tools that I can throw in the dishwasher? We don't need no dishpan hands! My bean pot also keeps all my foods warm or chilled for up to 3-4 hours which is perfect because if I ever have to bring food somewhere crockpot style and there is no plug then my bean pot will save the day.
I gathered up all of my ingredients and mixed them straight into the pot to make this delicious smelling mixture for my chicken to bake in...
I popped in the chicken, put the lid on the pot and baked it at 325 for a little over an hour.
In the meantime I prepared the sides, asian salad and white rice.
My family chowed down on this! There wasn't even a piece of rice left over!
After dinner I was going to put my pot in the dishwasher but to my surprise while I rinsed it out everything came right off! The glazed surface kept everything from being a baked on mess. I could get used to that...I hate scrubbing stuff!
I was really impressed by my bean pot and because I have retired my BBQ for the wet cold months upon us I have been inspired to bring out my cozy slow cooking recipes to try in my bean pot. I have also been inspired to scrounge around Pinterest for some new recipes! Hmmm, so what am I cooking in my bean pot tomorrow??
It comes with everything you need to apply it to pretty much any surface. Suction cups for windows, magnets for the fridge and heavy duty tacks for walls. What I really liked about it was the quality of the products used to adhere it to surfaces. Many times I have gone out and purchased something to hold pictures and clutter just to have it slide down the fridge or fall out of the wall. Button-Up is tough! For my experiment I used the magnets on my fridge.
How does it hold things??
All you do is pop your doo-dad under one of these buttons and it holds everything securely.
I tried a little bit of everything as you can see:) It makes for a great "Grand Central Station" of important papers, coupons, notes and pictures!
I could get really creative with Button-Up. I could use it in my office as an inspiration board, in a restaurant window (with the suction cups) to hold a menu or I could flip in over and use it as a white board. I like that it is really versatile!
However, my favorite use was for a picture board on my fridge...
If you are in the market for a nifty little organizing system try Button Up out!
I was recently asked by a local company called Pegell to review their product called "Button Up." It is a really cool organizing system that you can use anywhere in your home, office, restaurant, RV, garage...you name it I bet it can go there! It replaces the refrigerator magnet style of organizing your little doo-dads and what-cha-ma-call-its. In my language that means it is a really awesome de-cluttering tool!! Because I am an in my fall frantic organize mode I gladly took on the challenge to do this fun review. It comes with magnets, suction cups and tacks so I will be trying it all over the sixpack house and testing it with all these little papers and "dont forgets" the kids keep bringing home now that school has started!
So stay tuned...I will be experimenting today with this versatile gadget to see how I can be creative with it and I will be taking lots of pictures to show y'all how I plan to use it!
Because I have fallen head over heels in LOVE with photography I have dedicated a little bloggity blog of my work. I am always a work in progress and forever a photography student so if you would like to see me transition into something new head on over to my new found art:)
So maybe this isn't the highest of angles to choose from but I am taller than her so it falls in the category right?! On saturday afternoon we decided to take the kids and do a little exploring in downtown Portland. We took the kids into this really cool shop called Cargo that is filled with all kinds of funky junk! There was a barrel of parasol's sitting out and my daughter pointed to them and said "MOM! those would be great props!"...I couldn't help but gush at that and think to myself "Hmmm do I have a future little photog on my hands??!" Look out world!
Then for the rest of our afternoon she walked all over Portland with her little pink parasol!
Well you don't have to look far in Washington for something green now do you?! There is so much green around I wasn't quite sure what I was going to shoot until I came across this cute green bike leaning against a green picket fence today!
And how whimsical is it to have a basket filled with flowers and American flags?!
Have you ever tried to take a picture of yourself? Like a REAL one. Not one where your arm is on the side of the picture because your holding your camera phone in front of your face but like a real one where you are perched in front of the camera like everything is cool. Uh...its not as easy as it looks and honestly it feels quite awkward and dorky. It is also unnerving when you hear someone coming and afraid that they might see you "taking a picture of yourself" you awkwardly look off to the side and end up with something with one eye shut and a facial expression that looks like you have just smelled something foul.
It kinda went something like this:
~Set up camera on tripod that doesn't work well with new very big, very heavy camera.
~Set the timer button..."oh crap!" How do I set the timer again on this new camera? Got to find the manual.
~OK..timer is set, hit the button and run in front of the camera..."what do I do now?" Think for a second...FLASH! The camera takes the picture. I look awkward, confused and the tripod isn't holding my camera and tilted forward to cut off my head.
~Strip down and throw clothes on the floor in a huff.
I always love a "challenge" and when I found this on Pinterest (WARNING: Pinterest is a highly addicting website of all types of eye candy) the other day I knew I had to do it! I think I was lured by the pretty way the 30 day logo was designed...because lets face it I am just a big fat sucker for pretty eye candy of all sorts!
My photography classes are on a summer hiatus for now. While the kids are home I decided to stay as UNbusy as I possibly can so I have the freedom to go and do things without constraints. Afraid that my new photog skills would get a little dusty I found something to keep me going "hmmm" for 30 days straight.
Here is the challenge...
And really nobody needs a fancy camera to play with this one:) A point and shoot or camera phone will do just dandy. I know if I am in a pinch I will just bust out the old iPhone and use my hipstamatic app!
I really love working with this kid! My daughter is such a sport when it comes to letting me experiment with different locations that I scope out around town and letting me get some homework done!
She loves being in front of the camera...I have no idea where she gets that from (wink wink)! When it comes time to drag her out for a little mini shoot I don't even have to bribe-beg-plead for cooperation. She is all poses and grins.
Can I just say that as a mom of four when you experience cooperation at any level from any child it is truly a gift. So saying that I am thankful for it is an UNDERSTATEMENT!
Here is a little sneak peak of our mini shoot around Washougal.
I have so many more places I want to experiment with so I hope she never gets tired of me buggin' for a shoot!
I am just scratching the surface with this photography stuff and by no means am I a pro or consider myself one (should the logo make you think I have gone mad and pronounced myself a professional). I am aspiring right now and reveling in everything I am learning.
From classes to self teaching to getting out and messing up entire shoots this has been one of my greatest experiences.
I really love iheartfaces. (<--Click on that link to check em out!)
Every week they host a photo challenge for photogs of every level. Hobbyists, mom-parazzis, semi pros and full on pros. They provide so much inspiration, tips and helpful tutorials that I am known to lurk around iheartfaces on a daily basis!
I decided to enter just for fun this week. The theme is "soft and sweet." I chose to revisit my Pillow Pet photo shoot for a couple reasons: I had a homework assignment for my portraiture class that required me to use natural window light as the light source and because there is only four northern exposure windows in my home (my messy office, the laundry room, the messy teenagers room and my 9 year old daughters bedroom) I really only had one choice in location that was decent for my shoot. Also, I got a new camera this weekend (the uber delicious Canon 7d) and I thought I would redo the shoot to see if I could spot a difference in quality or otherwise PLAY WITH MY NEW TOY!
So here you have it. My "soft and sweet" entry:) The Pillow Pet as the "soft" and my sweet little Lily as the "sweet!" I hope you enjoy! If your a photography nut like me then you should head on over to iheartfaces!
Should I keep it going? Should I put out my photography? Should I write about home stuff? Should I write about kids? I mean lets be real here...I don't have and endless supply of cash laying around to decorate and redecorate just for a blog! I wish I did but that just isn't going to happen. So then what happens when I run past my 3000 square feet? And I am super duper busy so I don't always have time to do a craft, stop and take pictures and then write about it. When I do that it sort of takes away from the enjoyment of being in moment. There is nothing worse than being in the moment of a craft with the kids and then saying "wait stop! I need to take a picture so I can BLOG it!" This is when I see some serious eyeball rolling. If I really think about it it sort of bursts their bubbles because before I wanted to "freeze" what we were doing they were enjoying the moment.
And then I think "Kama! Hello! You are lost in doing things for everyone but yourself again!" By this I mean that I started this blog for me as an outlet and that was it. I can have just myself reading or 500 people reading but really what it boils down to is remembering this is my outlet. So you will be seeing a lot of randoms in my posting. Just a hodge podge of my life! That would have been a good blog name "A Hodge Podge of My Life!" I am seriously into photography right now so most of what I post is probably going to be eye candy for now.
Hope you don't mind:)
Here is a little recent eye candy...
We just recently had prom. It is always such a treat to do all the girly things with my daughters! Their corsages were done by our local florist Flowers Washougal who do some amazing flower arrangements. If your a local and haven't tried them you gotta go! I wish I snapped a shot of the boys' boutonnieres but I was too camera crazy with the girls as usual!
If there is one thing that I really do not like it is a whole bunch of stuffed animals.
They can quickly take over a child's bedroom and can not be organized easily. I mean what good are they organized into a rubbermaid bin? Or piled across a bed? They just get thrown on to the floor every night to make way for our sleeping children. They take up so much space its not like you can put them all on your kiddos shelf and have you noticed when it is time to sift through and thin out these cute little stuffed creatures to donate that suddenly each and every one of them is your kiddos "FAVORITE."
And then came the Pillow Pet craze.
(As if Beanie Babies and FurReal friends were not enough!)
As soon as these things started brainwashing my children in between TV shows, hitting every store shelf and mall kiosk I knew it was OVER. Eventually somehow they would make their way into my children's bedroom where they would play with and love every single day just like the commercial says they will!
I gave in.
(I know I am a sucker!)
But not without following through with my "one toy/stuffed animal in, one toy/stuffed animal out" rule which was formed in order to keep a handle on the clutter factor.
We are proud owners of a Pillow Pet Panda & Pillow Pet Puppy and despite not being a fan of stuffed animals I found a really great reason to love them almost as much as my kids do...
They make the CUTEST props for little kiddy pictures.
It has been dreadful here in Washington. Wet, grey, gloomy, gloomy and did I mention gloomy? But every now and then the clouds open up and shine a little heavenly sunlight through a window and although it may only last a few minutes it is always a quick opportunity to get in some picture taking! So last week when the moment of sun shined through our windows I grabbed my camera, kids and pillow pets for a quick shoot in their rooms.
I think they turned out cute and I can honestly say that I am glad I got the kiddos the Pillow Pets:)
I just wanted to share a few of my latest favorite pictures. I am becoming obsessive about finding backgrounds to practice my photography-mania. Everywhere I go I look at things with a "that would be a cool spot to snap a few shots" mind frame.
With the weather all cruddy and cold it is dampering my ability to go out and practice. However, I have found a nice little spot on the front porch to take a few pictures using the siding as a background. It is simple and neutral and makes colors pop! I also have been having ENDLESS fun playing with photoshop actions and templates!! The template I used here is from mcp actions and was FREE...go get one!!
This shot was made possible by my new toy...the Canon 24-70mm 2.8L lens (I feel so pro!). Hubbs kindly offered to treat me to this lens for our anniversary (19 years of being together! Holla!!). Can I say one thing? BEST. GIFT. EVER. Jewelery is not my thing although I do catch myself at Costco every now and then staring into the jewelry cases at all the pretty sparkly's. This is usually short lived as within seconds I am turning around to play with all the cameras and gadgets. The older I get the more I realize what a nerd I am.
Yesterday I was so excited to start using my new toy right away. I set the dog up and got a few shots but she looked scared of the big monster lens and laid there while I was taking pictures as if I was punishing her. So I stopped my doggie shoot, gave her a cookie and some loves and she was happy again. I figured I would do a few shots of the kiddos but they were not due home until about four which meant I was losing that precious northern exposure! So the second the kids walked through the front door after school I was like "photo shoot!!" to which they replied in grumbly miserable child style "nooo I don't want you to take my pictures AGAIN." In true mom-like-bribe fashion I said "five minutes of pictures and you can open a box of thin mints."
I got this great little picture of my daughters pretty purple kicks while she was sitting on grandpa's old stool. Thank god my girl scout cookies got delivered because there were no other treats in this house and who knows I might not have got this cute shot!
(And check me out peeps...I am getting all fancy with mah blog logo up in here!)
After I tinkered with the picture on elements using some yummy Florabella actions my daughter and I were bumping brains and we thought it would be cute to do a little series of this picture. One with flip flops to represent summer, one with mary jane's to represent fall, one with snow boots to represent winter and this one above would be spring. Then we would print, frame and hang them in her room!
And this is why I love taking pictures. I go out snap a couple shots on the front porch and pretty soon I have come up with a fun project and art display!
Last year I set out to become healthy, to lose weight and to dig into myself more and figure out what makes me tick. After spending so many years living and working for my family as a stay at home mom I started to feel as though I was losing myself. This sort of happened silently. I went on with everyday trying to keep up with every ones schedules, games, appointments, laundry, cleaning, grocery shopping and by the end of the day there is really nothing left for ME. I am lucky if I am able to squeeze in a workout! I do not regret staying home with my kids I just needed to get a hold of Kama again. I decided I wanted to stop listening to myself say "I want to do this" or "I want to do that" and JUST DO IT.
I needed to start doing the things that make my heart sing and that is my motto for 2011.
I have always had a love for taking pictures and looking at other peoples pictures. I always wondered what equipment they used or how they got the shot. Anywhere I go my camera is always close by but I had never managed to figure out how to go beyond auto. I tried to read the manual my camera came with but my brain that had been lying dormant for so long while I slayed sippy cups, diapers, laundry and household chores for years was just not getting it! So after many many many internet searches I found a place called Newspace Center for Photography in Portland which offers classes that fit into my busy schedule. I started with a basic class to teach me how to shoot manually and as the class progressed my heart began to sing (like a 500 lb opera singer). I signed up for the photoshop class soon after the first class began and that was when all my backup singers appeared... I LOVE EVERYTHING ABOUT PHOTOGRAPHY and this is what makes me tick!
I have been doing pretty much nothing but reading about photography and editing for the past two months in my spare time. It has been nothing but pure pleasure for me to understand f-stops, shutter speeds, different lenses, layers, actions, RAW, jpeg, tiff and aspect ratios. Digital photography has sort of turned into pandora's box... first you need to learn how to use the camera correctly. Then you need to learn how to process the images correctly which leads to you needing to know how to run the software program to process those images... which also leads to you needing to know how to REALLY use your computer which I can honestly say I have never really been that in to so there is a lot for me to learn.
And I thought I was just going to learn how to shoot pretty pictures! LOL
But it is all worth it. I feel like I am coming to life again. I am getting close (and I say "close" because I am still fumbling with the technical stuff and piecing it all together in the moment of a shoot) to expressing myself more in an artistic way while learning something new at the same time. It is a sense of accomplishment which I think every single human being needs. In the midst of all of this I think it might be sucking my husband in as well. He has always been one of artistic nature and the other day he asked if he could have my camera when I upgraded. He also had fun scouting out shoot locations in Portland and mentioned his love of architectural photography. How amazing would it be to stumble upon a husband and wife hobby?!
Like I said "pandoras box."
I apologize for my absence and sporadic posts. I am just busy marinating my brain in all things photography right now! My goal is to be the photographer for my daughters senior pictures coming up soon...which has also led me to enrolling into a lighting course which starts soon. I CANT WAIT!
I wish you all a great week and "cheers" to making your heart sing!
As I mentioned before my class assignment this week was to walk up to a stranger and take his or her picture. I kinda put this off through the week because I was a little scared to do this. I am used to taking pictures of my family which is no problem at all because my kids were born with my camera shoved into their pretty little faces. So when it comes to walking up to a stranger and saying "Can I take your picture?" it was giving me a little bit of anxiety. You just never know what people will say in that situation. Fortunately, I was lucky to find a nice man at our local Goodwill drop off center who agreed to take his picture for me.
His name is Kevin. He helps unload cars filled with donations for the Goodwill. My first thought was to take his picture under the Goodwill sign so it would sort of tell the story of how he makes a living. I snapped a few shots and got this...
As I hit the playback button on my camera to show him the picture he said "Wait! Let me grab my glasses so I can see!" As he came back to me with his glasses on I noticed his beautiful eyes and said "Can I do one more? I love your glasses!" And he agreed. He popped his beanie back on and stood in the doorway for me.
And I got this shot...
Maybe I am weird but I really love this picture of Kevin.
I guess it is because through this picture I see that he is not just the guy who unloads my car full of junk but a man who is making a living doing something a lot of us would not want to do. If it wasn't for this project maybe I would not have noticed his beautiful eyes...that sort of makes me sad inside. Do I really carry on my days so busy that I don't notice these beautiful details in the faces of strangers?
After yesterday, I realize I need to slow down. Take a few moments here and a few moments there to just stop and take in the small (yet huge) beautiful things that surround me. Just the simplest task of donating some old junk to the goodwill has beauty in it but only if we stop for a moment to find it.
I started photography and photoshop classes recently and all I have been doing is reading, reading, reading, reading, and taking pictures as the weather permits! Can I say that never in my wildest dreams did I think that there was so much to the DSLR?! Especially my older version of the Canon Rebel! I don't just want to go by the book and set this thing-a-ma-jiggy on that setting or set that doo-hicky on this setting...I want to know "WHY" for everything that goes on in my camera. I am totally getting in touch with my inner geek. I have been pouring through books, the internet and good old youtube for as much info as I can possibly get. By the way, for some great photography tutorials on youtube check out fontanaknowlege. Grrreat channel!
As far as my work has been coming along I have a couple cool pictures to share.
And no we didn't bring a fan. It was windy! LOL. Can you believe this reflective light I stumbled upon? It was very strong sunlight reflecting off of a glass building. We were coming to an end of a little photo shoot that I felt was unsuccessful. I was getting frustrated putting all the pieces of information together that I had recently learned and as we were walking away from our shooting area this light hit my daughter and I yelled out "work it girl!" and of course being the camera loving teen aged girl that she is...she worked it! I love this picture because it is completely unedited. It is exactly what I shot that day.
Betsey the crazy dog...
I think you can safely say that when you have been bitten by the photography bug you start obsessing over lenses. I decided to go to Pro Photo Supply in Portland to make my first lens purchase. I chose the 50mm 1.4 lens. This lens is great for portraits and low light situations. After my purchase I asked the sales guy "what should a beginner like me get next?!"...I think this is going to be trouble! After Betsey's little photo shoot she got a cookie for being so patient while I fumbled around with my new lens and settings. She is such a good little dog:)
Our homework this week is to do a portrait of a stranger, someone you do not know at all. Talk about getting out of your comfort zone! I feel sorry for some of the men in the class who have to go up to a stranger and say "excuse me, can I take your picture?!" I am a little nervous about this one...but I will let you all know how it goes.
Thank you for bearing with me as I venture off into photography for a bit. I promise I will be back into my crafty, decorating mode! I just need learn the proper way to take pictures of my projects!
WOW. I didn't realize how long it has been since my last post!
I have been spending time with our family from San Diego...my parents, my brother and sister in law. We had a great visit, we cooked lots of food, we did tons of shopping and we did uber-amounts of coffee runs to Peet's to keep us going. Everyone went home yesterday, back to work, back to real life. I cant believe how fast the last couple of weeks flew by. It is kinda depressing here! The decorations all came down, the Christmas tree got launched off the back deck for the hubs to chop up for firewood and the house is so QUIET and BARE. I have a feeling this is what people call "empty nest syndrome." I don't really like it! AT. ALL. The only thing that keeps me from going back home is the fact that they will all be moving up here someday soon-ish...RIGHT MOM? (I know your reading this) Because your grand kids and your big 33 year old baby miss you:(
I was very happy to hop on blogger this morning and look through all the posts I missed while I was busy. BOY WAS I RE-INSPIRED! You all took my my frown and turned it upside-down! I want to get out and take lots of pictures, re-do my office, re-organize the garage and build an organizing system for my daughters bedroom (she does not have a closet in her room because it is considered a bonus room). I guess I should say "THANK YOU FOR LIGHTING MY FIRE!" (big dumb grin on my face). Now I have a few plans in my head to keep me busy and focused!
I do not have any resolutions for the year, just a few goals. They are to keep off the weight I lost last year, to learn photography better (my class starts tonight! Eeeeeeee!!) and to SAVE MORE AND SPEND LESS! I think all of those things are achievable. Last year I/we made goals to lose weight and pay off debt and with my hard work I lost 52 pounds and with my husbands hard work we paid off the debt. Do you know how good it is to see that student loan that I took out 14 years ago disappear?! I would say last year's goals have put us in a perfect running position for 2011!
Here is to a fabulous new year to all my friends far and close! May you find happiness, stay healthy and achieve all of your New Year's goals and resolutions!