Friday's Find - Bella Boutique Originals

January 29, 2010

I wanted to take the opportunity to introduce you all to a great new boutique that has just opened..... Bella Boutique Originals


Not only does this boutique have the most adorable little gifts for things like baby and wedding showers, it is owned by someone very special......

........My sister!!

She makes some really cute and unique things for babies and brides to be. She is also has a line of hostess gifts...... you know when you are invited into someone's home and you want to take a little something, but just don't know what to buy.

I "borrowed" a few of her photos that are on her new website to give you a little seak preview!!

"Baby Cake"
For $25 you get a little cake that is made up of 3 blankets, 5 washcloths, baby booties, bib, and a special treat for Mommy inside!

"A Cupcake Assortment"
An Assortment of burpcloths, baby booties, and washcloths for $18

"For the Hostess With the Mostest"
A teatowel cupcake for $5.50

So, if you are in the market for some unique and totally adorable gifts, please stop by and check out her online boutique.

Today I have participated in my friend Colleen's Friday's Find! Click HERE to go to her blog and see more fabulous finds! If you have a "find" of your own, post it and link back to her!

Have a wonderful weekend!

Black and White Wednesday - "Believe In Your Dreams"

January 27, 2010

Happy Wednesday my black and white lovin friends:)

I wasn't quite sure what I wanted to do this week and was looking for some inspiration......

After a few days of thinking and looking around, the lightbulb went off.... there is something that is of great interest to Nick right now and I thought it would be something cool for the "wall of fame"

Nick has not been the most cooperative subject lately.... you know, the tweenage years.....they just want to do their own thing!! So, I decided instead of putting him through the ringer to get the shot I had in mind, I would to dig through the archives to see if I could find something that I could use..........

Believe Rounded WM

This picture was taken at the park about 9 months ago....... he had walked right infront of the camera and I totally caught him off guard! I always loved this image, but never did anything with it. I guess it was one of those that got buried within a photo filled hard drive.

After converting the original picture to black and white in Photoshop, I decided it needed a little I put a barely there texture on it and I also decided to add some text or word art to dress it up!!

Here are a few helpful hints..... You can buy brushes or word art at most of the places you can find digital scrapbooking kits. My two favorite places to buy brushes are HERE and HERE. They are very inexpensive and if you have Photoshop.....they are LOADS of fun to play with!

If you don't want to buy brushes or word art, you can create your own..... Most programs like photoshop are preloaded with some basic fonts, but there are sites that offer some really cool free fonts.....all you need to do is download them to your computer. If you are looking for something new click HERE and HERE. You will not be disappointed!

Sorry, I digressed..... back to Nick.....

This summer, Nick had mentioned that he may not want to continue with Soccer. He thought good and hard about it and decided to stick with it for the fall season. I don't believe in forcing my kids to do something that they don't want to do, but I explained to him that if he signed up for a season, he must complete the season..... he could not quit!

He completed the season and had a great time playing, but he was positive that he was not going to be playing again in the spring. He wanted to take a break and really wanted to try something else.....something new.

We asked him to think about what he wanted to try........

The Guitar Rounded WM


He was adamant that this is what he wanted to do........

Around Halloween, he started emailing me links to a few electric guitars that he was interested in. He wanted us to buy him the guitar for was the ONLY thing he asked for and really wanted.

After a little investigating, we got him the guitar that held the number one spot on his list. It came complete with amplifier and carrying case!! Let me tell was a VERY LOUD Christmas! I guess it could have been worse.... he could have asked for drums!!

Next Tuesday, Nick will be taking his first lesson......and he is really EXCITED about it!

Of course like many other 12 year old boys, he is dreaming about playing in a band one day......or becoming a future rock star!!

I guess you really should believe in your dreams........... you never know where they will take you......or what the future might hold.

In the meantime..... I will be heading to the store to buy some ear plugs...... I think we are going to need them!! I have a feeling there will be a lot of practicing going on in between lessons.

Okay....enough about my Black and White Wednesday!!

I can't wait to see and read about all of yours.......

Create a link and/or leave a comment so we can follow the trail of beautiful photos!

Have a wonderful day!

I'm Just A Girl

January 24, 2010

Sarah In Pink 2 WM

We have been enjoying a lazy, low key weekend......

It was beautiful yesterday and we spent a good part of the day outdoors. Nick had his buddy over to spend the weekend with us, so while the boys were playing football with Pat, Sarah and I had a little fun of our own......girl fun!!

The fun started in her closet........ lately she does not want to get out of her pj's...especially if we don't have to go anywhere. Can't really say that I blame her.....but if I let her wear a "costume" she will be out of her pj's in a flash!!

On an angle 3 WM

Inspiration for this "costume" started with the lollipop:)

This week I stopped by our favorite candy store and they had lots of valentine's day goodies...... All pink and red!!

Peek A Boo WM

The day after I picked up the big lolli, I was reading one of my favorite blogs and her adorable twin girls were wearing the cutest vday leggies!! She was nice enough to tell all of her readers that T@rget and Chi!dren's Place had just stocked their shelves with all kinds of cute Valentine's Day items. I scored the cute tshirt at T@rget for $5.99....gotta love a good deal:)

On the tracks 2 WM
Sarah has really been in the "dress up" mode these past few months. So when she got this hot pink tutu for her bday.....she was really excited!! So was I when I saw that it was the perfect match to adorable vday tshirt:)

On The Grate 2 WM
We were going to pair the outfit with CHUCK T sneakers....but she picked her black boots instead!!

Who's There WM
A simple black bow in her hair......

Princess For A Day 2 WM
And to complete the look....... HER OFFICIAL PRINCESS JEAN was so stinkin cute, I had to make sure I got a picture from the back:)

Seeing Sarah run around and enjoying all things pink and girly......just makes me smile from ear to ear.

Aren't little girls grand???

Hope you all had a wonderful weekend!!

A special thank you to Aunt Jan and Uncle Larry for the tutu, to Kim for the pretty bows you sent this week, and to Colleen for thinking of Sarah when the girls outgrew this adorable denim jacket!!

Black and White Wednesday - "The Lady Behind the Lens"

January 20, 2010

Welcome to week number two!

If you missed out last week or you are new to this blog, check out my sidebar... I have created a link list for "Black and White Wednesdays" and will update it each week linking the newest post. I also included a link to explain what Black and White Wednesdays are all about:)

Last week I shared with you all what I had in mind for our hallway..... I want some real life candids in addition to some studio style shots and I also wanted to have some things that represent our family and the places we love to go and visit. Sounds simple enough, doesn't it??

As the week went on and I started to look through the archives of pictures from this past year, the one thing that was strikingly obvious...... I AM NEVER IN ANY OF THE PHOTOS. It is no fault but my own, because I will never pass the camera.....and quite honestly, I do not like being on the other side of the lens.

Along with the goal of filling up the wall..... I also realize that I need to try to work myself into a photo or two from time to time.....and while we are at it..... I need to get Pat, my husband, to get in more photos as well!! I want to make sure the kids have memories of their childhood, but also memories of their Mom and Dad.

Getting Pat into photos should be easy.... but how do I get myself in photos and still be the person to take the photo?

I set up a great challenge....more like a test, that took me WAY OUT of my comfort zone......

Do you know where I am going with this one??

Yep, you guessed it.....

I Put myself on the other side of the camera to get a taste of what I put the kids through.

The sitting area in our bedroom got turned into a makeshift little studio. I set my camera on a tripod and used the timer. You can also use a shutter release, but I chose not to because mine is not wireless and the wire is always getting in the way. The only other thing I used was a white reflector to help bounce some light.

Figuring out where I wanted to place the tripod and how I wanted to frame the shot was not so bad, but the hardest part was finding the right place to focus.....

I had to visualize where my head would be in the chair and aim the camera and then quick jump into place. It sounded easy in my mind, but wasn't quite as simple as I thought.......

Every single shot, I had to get up and look back through the camera, reset it, click the button, then quick run and get into postion again. Trust me.... do this for an hour and you can skip the gym.....and eat a piece of cake for dessert and not feel an ounce of guilt:)

The goal was to get one usable picture of myself...... I deleted many photos.... some of them I had inadvertantly cut off my head or the focus was not on my face and the overall picture was just plain blurry, but in the end, I feel I got a few usable photos, but this one was probably the best of the bunch.

Me  Final Edit eye clone 3 WM

So...I gave you the set up, now let's talk about editing.....

OH GOSH... I am so use to editing photos of children.....looking at a picture of yourself zoomed in all the way in Adobe Photoshop can be a frightening.....and an eye opening experience. Let's just say that the sharpening tool is not the friend of a middle aged woman and I opted to give the picture a softer....{more forgiving}look!!

While I won't drag you through every detail or explain each step of the editing process, what I can tell you is that I use both Lightroom 2.0 and Adobe Photoshop CS3. I adjust things like white balance and exposure in Lightroom, but the majority of my editing is done in CS3.

I try to achieve the desired look in full color first....than convert it to black and white.

Me  Final Edit eye clone 1 BW Vanilla 3 WM
I think I prefer this photo in color, but the point of this weekly challenge is to start printing out more black and whites........

There you have number two heading to the wall:) The Lady Behind the Lens........ I don't think you will be seeing me step in front of the camera very often.....but I will make an occasional appearance!

This was definitely a challenge for me and I urge any of you that never pass the camera, to give it a try!! BTW, if any of you have tried this and have any ideas or suggestions...please let me know, I would love to hear from you!

Okay my friends...... now it is your turn to show me what you came up with this week! I can't wait to make my way around to all of your blogs!! Don't forget to link and/or leave me a comment.

If you have any questions, write the question in the comment section, and then check back..... I will answer you back in the comment section as well:)

Happy Wednesday and Happy Shooting!!

Happy Birthday Nick.... and a few updates:)

January 18, 2010

Before I get on to the Birthday Wishes, I wanted to thank everyone that supported the first "Black and White Wedneday" by linking your own beautiful black and whites or by stopping by to leave such sweet comments to all those that posted. I was blown away with how many people took an interest and cannot wait to see what y'all have up your sleeves for this Wednesday!!

Secondly, my friend Colleen started a Recipe Monday and a Friday's Find on her blog. Click HERE to check out the details.

On Mondays you can post and then link your favorite recipes back to her. If you are anything like me, you are always on the lookout for new things to cook for your family....especially when you know they are tried and true by other bloggy friends. So stop by today to see what Colleen has in store for us.

We have been in full birthday mode around here this weekend. Unfortunately, I had a viral thing that hit me Thursday morning and I have not been 100%.... fever is gone, so are the aches, but my stomach is still feeling uneasy. Just enough to slow me down, but not put me totally out of commission......thankfully:)

Nick spent this past weekend with his Dad, so we decided to do our family celebration tonight. Nick is out of school for the holiday and he has midterms the rest of the week, so we figured this worked out for the best. My Mom and Dad are coming over for dinner, cake, and of course...... presents!! Next weekend, after midterms are over, he will have some friends over to celebrate.

Before the party starts tonight, Nick and I are going to spend some time in the kitchen. I took the easy route this year and ordered his birthday cake, but I promised him we would bake his favorite cupcakes so he could take them to school for his classmates and teachers.

Cupcakes WM
Chocolate Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

We made these last year for Valentine's day.... for obvious reasons, we won't be using food coloring to dye the icing pink, but the recipe is the same.....and trust me, they are heaven on a plate!!

You can click HERE to get the recipe we followed for the chocolate cake, but we sustituted Cream Cheese Frosting for the Peanut Butter Icing. Here is all you will need:

1 package of 8 ounce cream cheese
1/4 stick of butter
2 tsps of milk
1 tsp of vanilla
4 cups of powdered sugar

Nick Up WM
Since we are going to be pretty busy all day today and tomorrow, when it is actually Nick's birthday..... I figured I would do his post a day early:) I don't have any new images of him, but wanted to share some of my personal favorites from this past summer.

Nick- Face Shot wm
"You don't raise heroes, you raise sons. And if you treat them like sons, they'll turn out to be heroes, even if it's just in your own eyes"~Author Unknown

Sunshine On A Cloudy Day WM
Nick, you are truly a one of kind child that melts my heart on a daily basis. You are so kind and compassionate to others and always know the right thing to say or do when a friend of loved one is in need.

I am in awe of the young man you have become..... I get sad at times to think of you as a baby and some of the special things that I did not get to do with you or missed out on becuase I was sick.

Your birthday is such a special day, but it is also a reminder of how and when my life changed. Your toddler years were some of the hardest times of my life....and I distinctly remember your Second birthday party and thinking it might be the last time I would celebrate a birthday with you. I did not know what my future held, but I knew that I would fight the good fight because I wanted to not only see your next birthday, I wanted to see you grow up. You and I struggled together those first few years, but I know that my love for you is what pulled me through.

I am so very proud of who you are and feel very thankful that I was given a second chance at I can watch you live yours.

Happy 12th Birthday Nick!

I Love You,


Black and White Wednesday

January 13, 2010

Welcome to the first week of "Black and White Wednesday"

If you missed the post that explains it all, click HERE to see the details and feel free to join in.....the more, the merrier.

All you need is your camera, editing software of choice, and a place to post them! There are no rules... you can post whatever you want as long as it is black and white!

As I mentioned on Sunday morning, there were two real motivators behind Black and White Wednesdays. The first was to give me something to work towards this winter with my photography and make me step out of my comfort zone a little....kind of pushing myself a bit. The second motivator was to fill an entire wall/hallway in our home with black and white photos of our family.

I am almost embarrased to say......because you all know how many pictures I take, but I only have 6 photos hanging on that wall......ONLY SIX!!! And can I add that 3 of them were taken at a portrait studio before I really got into photography. Yeah.... that tells you a lot...... I am not on the ball with my photo printing, because surely, I should have more than 6 hanging up there.

So, when I thought about this weekly challenge; to take and process at least one photo in black and white, I started to think about what it was that I wanted to photograph......

Well, most definitely I want photos of the kids......but I don't want all posed, portrait style photos. I want some everyday life photos.....candids....things that will make memories. Things that they will look at years from now and say, remember when.....

I also don't want every shot to be a photo of a person. I would like to hang some images of things that symbolize our life, our family and our interests. I want to include places we travel and things we see on a daily basis.

The wheels are turning in my head....... I have a lot of ideas spinning around up there, I just hope I can execute that I can share them with you each week!

Without further ado.... Here is the first B&W that will be heading to the wall.

Just lounging BW2 WM
I snapped this photo the other day while Sarah was lying on the bed totally enthralled in Nick Jr.

Her expression is what drew me in and her cute little tootsies dangling in the air slightly out of focus. Just the day in a life of a 3 year old..... life is surely good:) it is your me what you got!!

Did you take part in Black and White Wednesday?

If you did make sure you leave me a comment and use Mr. Linky so we can all stop by and check out your beautiful black and whites.

If you missed out this week, feel free to participate next week...or the week after, or the week after that.... you get my drift!

You might want to even join me and start a "wall of fame" in your house.

As the weeks go on, I will post pictures of the hallway so you can see the progress.... It will help keep me accountable:)

I guess I better start shopping for frames......

Hope you all have a Wonderful Wednesday!

UPDATE: I see a couple of you have already asked about processing.....

Would it be helpful for me to add some info on how I processed the pictures each week?? I know that everyone is not as into photography as I am, so I didn't want to bore you all with the details....... if you want me to include it, I will gladly do so.... just say the word:) Thanks for playing along.... I can't wait to make my way around to see everyone's posts. Right now... I need to get to work:(

The Difference A Day Can Make

January 11, 2010

The slurpee WM

This weekend there was one thing that was at the very top of my priority list..... Getting all the Christmas decorations taken down and put away.

I can't believe I left the tree and all the decor up this long.... I usually never go past New Year's Day before taking everything down.

Saturday morning, I was up and at it by 6:30am...... so unlike me for a weekend, but I just wanted to get it all done so that I could enjoy the rest of the weekend with my family:)

I had promised the kids that we could go to the movies if I could get everything cleaned up and put away by lunchtime. Sarah has never been to the movies before so I thought that "A!vin and The Chipmunks" would be the perfect movie to break her in.

As you can see she was in heaven with her VERY LARGE white cherry slurpee:) Nick was totally embarrassed that I whipped my camera out in the movie theater......he should be use to it by now!! Sarah did very well and sat through the whole thing. She got a little tired at the end and climbed into my lap for the last 30 minutes, but no tears or meltdowns!!

After the movies we had to hit the grocery store for a few things....

Do you feel like you are always running for a few things? I always make trips midweek for the things I forget or the things that I did not plan for in advance. I am not good in the meal planning dept..... horrible actually!

While in one of my favorite local markets, we walked through the floral department on our way to check out. Everything looked beautiful and I was drawn to the color of these they were on sale!! I thought that these would bring a little cheer to my kitchen, so I added them to my cart!!

Okay....a little confession.

I did need to bring something into my house to brighten things up, but I also just finished reading a series of books by THIS photographer and I was inspired to try a very simplistic set up on my kitchen table. The only thing I needed was a piece of white foam board and some natural light coming in from my window.

Tulips Day 1 Rounded WM

I took this shot of the tulips on Sunday morning.

Rounded Tulip WM
Same tulips Monday Morning.

I didn't plan on taking another photo this morning...... but as I sat here drinking my coffee, I couldn't help but notice how beautiful they looked.....and how much they had changed. It was amazing to me "the difference a day can make" in the life of a flower. Made me think a little about my own life........

Hope your week is off to a great start!!

Anyone Want to Play Along?

January 10, 2010

Winter Wonderland BW 2 WM

Like many of you, the winter doldrums are setting in and I am feeling like I am beginning to climb the walls. It is just way too cold to do anything outside and there are only so many places to go or things you can do indoors.

In addition, I feel less inclined to pick up the camera when we are inside. I miss the summer days and being able to whip out my camera almost anywhere and have great light and beautiful backdrops. I kind of feel like I have been in a creative slump and need some new challenges or goals to work towards when it comes to photography and this blog.

I would love to take part in something like "Project 365" where you take at least one photo each day and post it, but with a full time job, I know that I will never be able to keep up, so I have to set my sights on something less time consuming.

Black and White photos have always been a favorite of mine......and seem to be a popular choice with others too. Two years ago I started to hang black and whites on one of the walls in our home. My goal was to keep adding photos until the wall was completely filled. Well....let's just say that I can still see a whole lot of wall....LOL!

I take so many photos, but for some reason I don't process a lot in black and white.....and I would like to change that, so this is what I have come up with.......

"Black and White Wednesday"

Each Wednesday I am going to post a black and white picture. It doesn't matter what the picture is, it just has to be processed in black and white.

This will give me something creative to work on each week. It will help me refine my processing skills, because black and white conversions are not as easy as you think {more on that later} and last but not least.......IT IS GOING TO HELP ME FILL UP THAT WALL IN MY HOUSE:)

So what do you all think.......Anyone want to play along with me?

You can post a black and white portrait or a snap shot style photo, it can be a person, place, or thing.....whatever your heart desires, as long as it is black and white. You can tell a story with the picture, or just post the picture!!

It doesn't matter if you are a photographer or an ameteur, if you own a camera and have a blog or FB account, you can play along!!! And don't fret..... I will be posting every Wednesday, but you can come and go as you please. Play along as often as you would like. All you need to do is title your post "Black and White Wednesday"

I think I will create a link at the bottom of my post each week so that way if you are playing along, you can showoff your beautiful black and white for all to see:)

The fun starts this Wednesday...... I hope you will join me!

The above photo is the entrance to a farm that is a few blocks from our house. The long driveway lined with the white splitrail fence and gigantic trees has been calling out to me lately. I would love to take the kids down there for a shoot, but I want to check with the owners first. I don't want to get in trouble with my camera again for taking pictures where I shouldn't be. I hopped out of my car quickly to shoot this one from the edge of the road. The passersby must have thought I was nuts!

The Tween-age Years

January 7, 2010

Nick in red 2-2 WM 2

It just hit me the other night that we have a birthday quickly approaching. In two weeks Nick will be 12 and I can hardly believe it. How is it that he has grown up right before my very eyes?

He is no longer that little boy permanantly attached to my hip. Each day I have constant reminders that those days are far gone. He is now morphing into an outgoing young man.

The past 6 months have brought a lot of change. First of all he has had a pretty good growth spurt and is now eye to eye with me.....when I am wearing heels:) In addition, I have seen a big difference in his independence with things like homework and studying. He is such a responsible and organized kid it blows me away.

We have also had a lot of discussions surrounding things like clothes, shoes, hairstyles, cell phones and music. He is definitely voicing his opinions and wants to start making these decisions himself.....~sigh~

For me, it has been kind of difficult to let go and give him a little space to make his own decisions and allow him to work on who he really wants to be.

It is extra hard in this day age because of all the things our children are exposed to on TV, the internet, and other types of media. Our kids look up to these young stars and want to be like them and emulate them in every way. You just have to hope and pray that you instilled the right morals and values so that they will make the right choices.

I don't know about you, but when I go to the mall or the movie theatre and look around, I am appalled at what I see. Girls that are Nick's age dressing in clothes that.....ahem....don't necessarily fit. You know what I mean.....very little is left to the imagination in some cases. And it is not just the girls.....the boys and their pants that are 6 sizes too large belted around their thighs with their underwear hanging out....OMG, some of them can't even walk correctly because if they do their drawers will be around their ankles. While I have given Nick a little "space" to make his own decisions about his appearance, that is one look I absolutely forbid and he knows it.

After two years of saying no to a cell phone, Pat and I finally caved and let Nick get one in August. He saved up his money to buy the phone and we added him to our family plan. I know there are plenty of kids out there that are much younger with cell phones for a variety of reasons, but we were not ready to hand one over so fast. He has proven to be very responsible with it and I have to admit, with the back and forth from our house and his Dad's, it is nice to just call him on his cell phone when we would like to talk to him.

Nick in Red 1-2  WM

So, that is my little update on Nick and a glimpse into the "tweenage years" for those of you who haven't experienced them yet.

It is hard to sit back and let them grow up and find their way, but you have to let go at some point. I will just be standing by with a safety net in hand ready to rescue and assist when needed.

Even though his looks, words, and actions are telling me he is turning into a young man, I still look into his eyes and see my little boy. I think I always will.......

Happy New Year!!

January 5, 2010

Baby It's cold outside 4 wm
Out with old..... In with the COLD!!! I don't know much, but the new year has certainly brought winter in full force! It is absolutely freezing outside!!

Hope that everyone had a wonderful holiday season. Our holidays were very nice and seemed like they were over in the blink of an eye.

I had every intention of posting after Christmas, but decided it was probably best to take an extended break. I only took about a dozen photos between Christmas Eve and New Years. I left my camera in the bag and enjoyed my time with my family. It actually felt kind of good...... no camera, no FB, no blogging.....for two weeks. I know I worried a few people. Thanks for checking in on me. It is always nice to be missed:)

We spent Christmas here at our home with my side of the family and then we headed north to Cape Cod after Chrismtas and spent New Year's with Pat's side of the family. As I said, it was a whirlwind, but I am so happy that we got to see everyone. The kids had a fantastic time with their cousins. Nick got to spend his entire holiday break with Eddie and Sarah got to hang with the girls on the Cape:) It is just ashame that we don't get to see the extended family more often. I wish we all lived closer.

sarah (20 of 27)-Edit-2 wm

So here we are..... 2010. What will this year bring???

I am not sure, but I hope that this will be a GREAT year for our family and yours.

2009 was not an easy year for us by any stretch of the imagination, so this year has to be better!!

I am not big on resolutions, because they are so hard to keep, but I do like to try to set some personal and career goals each year.

One of my biggest goals is to find balance in my life. Like many of you, I find life is a constant juggling act and it is getting harder and harder each day to keep all the balls up in the air. Mother, Wife, Daughter, Friend, Coworker.....they are all important roles and not the kind of balls that you want to drop, but I need to get better about prioritizing.

Our family could be in for some really BIG changes this year....and I need to prepare myself. I say that with baited breath, because I feel like I have been saying it for 4 years, but I think I can say it will a little more confidence this year. In all likelihood, we will be getting a referral from China sometime in 2010. We are 39 log in days away from referral. Time will tell.......

I will be by soon to catch up with you all. Hope your year is off to a great start!!