Rainbow Tutu

Last night I finished C's birthday rainbow tutu! I'm pretty proud of it, although its not quite finished yet. I just need to try it on her and cut a bit of the length off. I made it extra long cause I wasn't sure how thick it would look once completed, and I didn't want too much of her thighs showing!

My tulle came in on Tuesday, and I was so excited that I started on the tutu that night. There will be no tutorial for a tutu here; there are so many on youtube that I felt it would be redundant for me to make one. I watched several tutorial videos last week until I felt comfortable tackling this project. But basically, your supplies needed are pretty simple:

~ tulle - obviously. I decided to do a rainbow, so I chose 7 colors (pink, coral/red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple). I purchased spools that were 6" x 27 yards, and I have plenty of tulle leftover for other projects.

~ satin ribbon or elastic band for the waist of the tutu. I had exactly enough yellow satin ribbon on hand - score!

~ scissors to cut the tulle with

~ something to help you measure the tulle

And that's pretty much it. There are probably ways to do this using a needle and thread, but I don't sew, so I was relieved when this project required no sewing at all. Actually, if it had required sewing, I would have just purchased a tutu from a friend of mine. I'm very pro-DIY lately, though, so I'm tackling all sorts of projects!

In total, this project took me probably 2 hours to complete. I started on Tuesday night, and worked on it for maybe an hour or so. Last night I gave it another 45 minutes or so. It goes pretty fast once you get the hang of dealing with the tulle and tying the knots. Tulle is very sticky! And staticy. I'm trying to figure out a solution to that problem. Any advice, you million of readers? (haha)

The rainbow tutus I've seen online are very different from mine. Most people seem to do larger blocks of each color. But I kinda like how mine all sort of meld together. I did 2 pieces of each color. My concern with the tutu was that it would be thin and see-though so that C would have to wear leggings underneath or everyone would see her underwear and upper thighs. But I don't think that's gonna be a problem cause this bad boy is THICK! I was even wearin it around the house last night and I would feel comfortable not wearing pants under it. (Don't worry, I'm not gonna be wearing a huge, fluffy tutu any time soon, lol! Though I do kinda want one for myself now...if Sarah Jessica Parker can rock one, why can't I? hehe)

I made the tutu extra long cause I wasn't sure the length I wanted to be. The other tutus that C has are pretty short, and pretty much just cover her tushy. They're cute, but not what I wanted for her birthday. Tonight I'll try the tutu on her and probably cut a couple inches off the bottom. When I let her try it on yesterday, it was only half done, but I could tell it was dragging the floor.

But don't worry; I won't be wasting any tulle that I cut off! I already have a tutorial on how to make a tulle hair bow. That's my next project. ( :  Well, that and C's shirt that I'll be making. I went to Michael's today and picked up some supplies - iron-on decals, paint pens, and some jewels. Its gonna be pink and sparkly and adorable (I hope)!

Am I going overboard with C's birthday party and the rainbow theme? Probably. But oh well. I want this party to be epic, at least decorations-wise. Don't ask me why, its just an urge I have had for a few months now. And I'm havin fun! ( :

Stay tuned for my next rainbow-themed DIY project!


Rainbows On the Brain

Say what?? Its December. I should be thinking about Christmas decorations, right? Well, that's done. For the first time EVER, I completely decorated the house for Christmas by the first day of the month! I am a firm believer in not putting up any Christmas decor until after Thanksgiving, and usually I wait until December. My cousin and I have a tradition of putting up our grandma's tree every year on the day after Thanksgiving. So we did that (which was an adventure, let me tell you! Major tree issues - ugh), and I guess it inspired me to get going on my own decor. So on Saturday, I decorated in the house as much as I could.
 This year, DH bought me a new garland for the mantle. I love it! I'm kinda thinkin it needs lights though...hehe.

On Sunday, I convinced DH to go pick out our tree (we don't do artificial trees) and we put it up that afternoon. C had fun "helping" us, though she couldn't quite figure out how to actually hang ornaments.
I forgot to take pics of the other decorations we have, but we really don't have a lot. Just a wreath on the back of the front door (we keep it closed all the time to keep the cold out, so I enjoy it more when the wreath is facing into the living room), and one on the pantry door in the kitchen. All my artificial seasonal flowers came out, which will stay up until the end of winter (they're not sparkly and Christmas-y, just winter-y, in my opinion). A little tree in C's room, which she helped decorate, and my traditional Barbie mini tree. I have been collecting Barbie Hallmark ornaments since I was a kid, and a few years ago I decided to give them their own tree. I love it!
But enough about Christmas (for now!). What's really been on my mind lately is RAINBOWS! Why, you ask? Because I'm planning C's THIRD birthday party!

First of all, let me just say that it is extremely hard for me to believe that my baby girl is turning 3 in just 15 days. Just this morning I looked at her in her toddler bed and teared up because she almost takes up the whole thing now. (*:

Until C starts to express an interest in her actual birthday parties and has her own ideas, I've been choosing the themes. For her first birthday, we didn't do a theme per say. I just went to the Dollar Tree and picked out decorations that I liked. It ended up being pink and green and butterflies everywhere. It was pretty simple, though. Last year, I did a Minnie Mouse theme. That was super cute. I had little mouse ears for the kids to wear, and hot pink and neon green everywhere, and my friend made a gorgeous Minnie Mouse cake for us. It was still a pretty simple party, though.

This year, inspiration struck me a while back. I can't remember what the first thing I saw to inspire me was, but I must have seen a picture somewhere of a rainbow party, and knew that's what I wanted to do. December can be such a blah month to have a birthday in. Sure, everything's decorated in red and green and sparkles for Christmas, but everyone's so busy with Christmas and everything else, so its always a struggle with birthday parties. So this year I wanted something super colorful and cheery - and what says colorful and cheer better than rainbows?!

What sealed the deal for me was a picture of cupcakes I saw back in October.
Gorgeous, right?? Once I saw this picture, I knew C's birthday party would be rainbow-themed, and I knew I'd make these cupcakes. I ordered the rainbow candy earlier this week, and I'm crossing my fingers that it'll arrive before the party!

One night this week, C asked me if we could make rainbow cupcakes. I had already gotten her approval for the theme for the party, and she's seemed pretty excited about it. I knew I needed to practice these cupcakes before the big day. Cause not only would they have a rainbow on top, they would be rainbow on the inside, too!

So, me and C mixed up the cake mix (from a box) and I divided the batter into 6 bowls, then added food coloring to each bowl. It was a very time consuming process, but the results were well worth it! I didn't add frosting to these, but C didn't seem to mind.
I only got 12 cupcakes out of one box of cake mix, though. I need to make at least 4 dozen cupcakes, so that process will take me a while. I might end up making some cupcakes and then a rainbow cake. We'll see.

My husband and I must be out of our minds, cause we decided to have C's party at our house this year. We normally have it at my mother's church, since we have so many people. But its always hard to get a good date since the church has so many things going on this month. So I suggested to DH that we have it at our little house and he agreed. Yep, we're crazy. We're inviting over 40 people. If they all show up, my house will be super crowded. Hopefully, the weather will be nice and the kids can get outside a little to run around...

I'm going ALL OUT with the rainbow theme. I'm probably going overboard, actually. You should see my Pinterest board dedicated to rainbow stuff! I'm DIY-ing almost everything. It will look like a rainbow threw up in my house that day. My plan is to decorate the night before after C goes to sleep, so that when she wakes up the next morning she sees all the rainbow stuff (the party is on her actual birthday). I have a TON of ideas and I absolutely can't wait to start everything!!

Yesterday, I watched youtube tutorials on how to make tulle tutus, and I feel confident I can make one, so I ordered some different colored tulle. My plan is to create something to this effect:
Haven't decided about the shirt yet, but I love the idea of a "3" and C's name!

I'll be making tissue paper pom-poms to hang everywhere, kind of like this:
Youtube has great tutorials for those, too. (Gotta love youtube!)

And of course, there will be a plethora of multi-colored balloons and streams everywhere. I'll be posting lots of pictures, so stay tuned! ( :

Newborn Photo Shoot

Well, in November I created a facebook page for my photography "business." I didn't share it with anyone; I didn't even add any information to the page. I just created it. And then let it sit there for a few weeks. Earlier this week I decided to work on the page some and share it with my friends. I got over 60 "likes" in the first day! That doesn't seem like a lot, I know, but it was huge to me. It showed me how many of my friends support me. I even got some likes from people I don't know! My hope is that facebook will help grow my little business and get me some real clients. I did have one person contact me about a family session, so we'll see what happens there.

Over Thanksgiving weekend, I did a photo shoot for my great nephew. The conditions weren't ideal, and I struggled to get just a few shots that I could be proud of. But I did get some!

This little guy was hungry and tired when he got to my house, but a bottle and a snuggle didn't do much for him. He was not going to sleep, no matter what we did. All my visions of gorgeous and peaceful newborn poses went out the window. And then he wouldn't be STILL! That youngin flailed his arms around constantly, haha.

For me, it was a stressful first newborn session. Luckily, my niece didn't seem to mind, and since she's not a paying client anyway, I didn't have that added stress.
See the awkward left arm? Sigh. Oh well, its still a cute shot, I think!
This was actually one of my favorites. I think it would have looked even more precious if he had been asleep, but I like his expression.

So, I did learn a few things for future newborn sessions. Well, some things I already knew, but this experience was a good reminder.

1 - Make sure the newborn is actually a newborn. Babies older than about 2 weeks are harder to get to stay asleep while you're posing them. And after 2 weeks I think they're harder to get to sleep in general, especially in new environments. Before 2 weeks, babies will sleep practically anywhere, and since they sleep a LOT, its easier to catch them sleeping so you can pose them. My nephew was just over 2 weeks when I took these photos, and I think he was just past that magical newborn phase.

2 - Make sure the day leading up to the photo shoot is stress-free for the newborn. Meaning, don't have him out all day and then try to take his picture. Chances are, he'll be wired and wanting to just be home and relaxed, not having bright lights all around him and a camera in his face. This probably works for older kids, too. In fact, earlier in the day sessions are probably best!

3 - Remember to really swaddle a fussy baby. We didn't try that with my nephew, but I wish we had. I wonder if it would have calmed him down and at least kept him from moving.

4 - Don't rush yourself. Take your time in setting everything just right and really thinking about the camera settings, the background, your angle, etc. This is something I struggle with all the time. When I'm taking pictures for someone else, I feel like I need to rush so that I don't take all day to get a good shot. I inevitably forget to do something or don't have something exactly right.

5 - This is one thing that I did right, because I learned from C's newborn portrait experience! Make sure the room where you'll be shooting a newborn is WARM! When we had C's newborn pictures done, my photographer had a new studio and it was absolutely freezing in there. Poor C just wasn't happy, and I know it was because she was cold. So I learned that you really need to crank up the heat, especially since most likely the newborn will be naked for at least some of the shots. So for my nephew's session, I cranked the gas logs up so that it was nice and toasty in my living room. I was sweating, but he was totally warm. ( :

Hopefully I'll get more opportunities to do newborn sessions in the future!


Get To Know Me

Lately in the land of the facebook, people are sharing random facts about themselves. The shtick is, someone gives you a random number and then you share that many facts about yourselves. At first, I thought it was dumb, but then I found myself enjoying learning new little tidbits about my friends. So I jumped on the bandwagon earlier this week. I thought it would be fun to post my list here, and add to it some things that I though of later. I was given the number 8.

And actually, it was kinda hard to come up with 8 things I wanted to share with all the people on my friends list. You'd think from reading my blog that I'm an open book, but most people don't actually know that much about me. For instance, the majority of my real life people don't even know I have a blog. I don't want most of them reading it because I don't want to hear their negative comments. Plus, its easier writing to an audience I don't know for the most part.

So, here's a few random facts about me!
- I hate whistling. And other noises you make with your mouth, like smacking gum or food. And loud swallowing. I don't even like to hear people kiss.

- My favorite type of music is rock - everything from classic rock to heavy metal. My favorite is 90s "grunge," though. I'm a major country gal, so people are usually surprised to hear I don't really like country music and like rock instead.
- I'm not a hard core rock fan. Meaning, I don't know the names of people in bands that I like. I can't even tell you which band sings most songs I like. I just don't care. The music is enough for me.
- I think modern "country" music doesn't deserve to have that title. They need to come up with a new name, cause this mess is not country! I like older country stuff, especially 90s country. And then I like the really old stuff like Waylon, Willie, Haggard, and Hank.
- I am a die-hard Michael Jackson fan. And I'm not ashamed of it. I'm still sad that I never got to see him in concert. But I did go see his movie "This Is It" in the theatre!
- Keeping with the music theme, I despise rap. Except some of Eminem's stuff. I really dig him, for some reason. But only on the radio. I don't like to watch him. I also like to listen to some "pop." Not a lot of it, though. Adam Levine's singing voice makes me want to smack him in the head, for instance. Can you tell I'm pretty passionate about my musical preferences? ( :
- I'm left-handed. I can't even feed myself with my right hand, but I put on my makeup with my right hand. And I can't use left-handed scissors. People who know me try not to sit on my left side in restaurants.
- I hate reality TV, but I love watching pageants and awards shows. If there's one of those one, you can bet I'll be tuning in. Even the Tony awards. I never see Broadway shows, and I never even know any of the actors who get awarded, but I just love an awards show.
- Speaking of pageants, I was once a Fire Princess and competed in a pageant. I didn't place, but the pageant was fun. And being the Fire Princess, I got to ride on top of a fire truck in a few parades.

Duh, I can't have a pic of somethin I'm terrified of on my blog!
- I am absolutely terrified of clowns. And ventriloquist dolls. As I type this I'm looking over my shoulder to make sure none have mysteriously popped up behind me. Irrational fear. I blame Stephen King's "It."
- I dyed my hair once in high school and vowed never to do it again. It turned out metallic purple. No lie. After that, I decided I was just fine with the color God gave me, thank you very much!
- I hate the feel of painted fingernails. Knowing that, once a year or so I paint them, just to see if that's changed for me. It never has. Right now, my nails are painted and I can't stand it. My toenails have to be painted, though.
Just looking at this makes me hyperventilate. No, thanks.
- I've never been in a tanning bed. And don't ever plan to do so. I'm happy being pale.
- I'm an avid reader. I go through at least a book a week, sometimes more. My guilty pleasure is YA paranormal romance.
- I've read the Twilight series more times than I should probably admit. That being said, I love parodies of the series. I'll be the first to crack a Twilight joke if I hear a good one.
- I'm hopelessly addicted to Chapstick. Its been this way for as long as I can remember. If I can't find my tube, I have an honest-to-goodness panic attack. When I was younger and I'd spend the night with friends, I'd keep my chapstick inside my dog that I slept with (he was a puppet).
And when I did a Google search for "1980s dog puppet, let's just say I shuddered.
- Speaking of that dog (Brandon), I still sleep with him every night. My husband doesn't seem to care, though occasionally he'll tease me about it.
- I say the word "crooked" weird, I'm told. It sounds totally fine to me. I say it "crook-erd."

( :

Budgeting: Step 2

Back in February, I wrote a post about how I was starting to budget my money. And okay, so it didn't actually happen, I'm sad to admit. I sat down, wrote down my monthly take-home pay and all my expected monthly expenses, and realized I had more money than I expected that was unaccounted for. Money that was being spent, I just didn't realize where. I vowed to figure it out and make a budget for myself. You know, tell my money where to go. And I was serious.

And then I guess I realized that creating a budget and sticking with it is hard. And it takes discipline.


So for a while, I basically abandoned the idea of budgeting. Its much easier to live in denial, pretend a problem doesn't exist. You know what I'm talking about. But lately, God's put it on my heart again to be better with my money. It probably happened the Sunday I realized I didn't have enough money in my checking account to tithe at church that day. Ridiculous!

Being the stubborn sinner I am, though, I still pretty much ignored the problem for a little bit longer. But I just can't ignore it any longer. I have a money problem. There, I said it.

And still, I can't figure out where all that extra cash goes. Like I've said before, I don't get my hair dyed (or even cut regularly). I don't wear the latest designer fashions. I don't get my nails done. My vehicle is paid for. Where am I spending my money?!

I will now be taking a hard look at all my "expenses." I actually think my main problem is buying stuff for C. I'm much better about it than I used to be, but I still have a really hard time passing up cute stuff that she doesn't really need. In my mind the expense is justified since it wasn't money spent on me. (Mommy guilt, anyone?)

I've already decided I won't be depriving myself of things I really enjoy. Like my Kindle books. I read probably a book a week, sometimes more. I won't buy a book for more than $6.99, and most of the ones I purchase are $3.99-4.99. But that still adds up when you consider how much I read. (I've tried borrowing them from the library, but my Kindle doesn't support Wifi or somethin dumb like that. I have a really old one!) I could just say I won't buy any more books, but who wants to live like that? Books are vital to me. And yes, I could go to the library and borrow physical books, but I absolutely love reading on the Kindle - its so much easier. Plus, who has time to go to the library?

Besides, I know that if I "deprive" myself of something like that, eventually I'll go nuts and totally overspend. Or just become really bitter and stressed about it. And you know if Mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy!

So, I'll be budgeting for books. And Netflix. My little family has come to love Netflix! Its a new subscription for us, but we watch it all the time. Well, on weekends. Our new "thing" is to eat an early supper on Sunday nights and watch a family movie on Netflix. I love it!

My husband pays all the bills in our house. I mean, we both pay for everything, but he's the one that physically writes out the checks. So I'm sure there are some expenses I don't even realize we have. Which is why he's gonna have to help me with this budget. Right now, we have separate checking accounts, but I hope to eventually merge them into one. I think it will make budgeting a lot easier for us. We'll see what happens there.

I've been reading a lot on Dave Ramsey's site this week. I'm toying with the idea of the cash envelope system. Obviously, it won't work for every purchase I make. But I do like the idea of it, especially for stuff like groceries and clothes. I hate carrying cash around, though, so I'll probably do a modified version of the cash envelope system. I read somewhere recently where you can make the envelopes for cash, but just place a piece of paper in there and keep a running tally. Then you can use your debit card as normal. That method sounds much more doable to me. And its probably exactly what I'll do, once I get this thing figured out.

For now, I have printed out a monthly cash flow plan worksheet from Dave Ramsey. I filled it out as best I could (I need my husband's input for the rest). Its already starting to come together in my mind how I need to make up different categories for my money.

Wish me luck on this latest venture of mine! I feel like I'm all over the place lately. Well, always, haha. But I guess all my recent interests kind of meld together for the same goal. ( :


Practicing A New Technique

On the camera, that is. I've really been delving into my photography lately. I love it! Last month, I shot a maternity session for my niece and her boyfriend and I was really pleased with the results of that. Well, she had her baby Friday night (I'm a great aunt!!), and sometime soon I'll be doing my great nephew's newborn session. I'm excited about that one, since I've never done a newborn session before. Actually, all of these sessions I've been doing lately have been new for me!
When C was born, I didn't have my fancy Nikon camera. I had a point-and-shoot that looked like a fancy camera, and it took great pictures, but it was pretty old and just not the best quality. But I loved taking pictures, so I was constantly doing just that. We brought C home from the hospital on Christmas Eve, and the day after Christmas we had a blizzard (which is pretty rare for eastern NC). She was almost a week old by that point (she had to stay in the hospital an extra couple of days due to jaundice), and I felt like her newborn period was slipping by. With all the snow outside, I was worried that we wouldn't ever make it to a photographer before she started changing too much. So, I decided to have a little photo shoot with her at home. I had no idea what I was doing, but I had studied tons of newborn pictures that I loved, and tried my best to recreate those images.
I set our Boppy up by the Christmas tree and draped a silky white blanket over it. Thankfully, C slept the whole time, and I was able to move her around and "pose" her with no trouble. I think I did pretty well, and I know if I had had my Nikon back then, I would have gotten some awesome shots.

But that's the extent of my newborn photography experience. I mean, I took photos of C basically every day for months and months, but most of those were quick snapshots using Auto. After I got my Nikon, every once in a while I'd do a "shoot" and actually try to get good quality pictures of her. But most of the time she's not cooperative, and I am always alone trying to do this, so I don't get many good shots. Which is why I still take her to a professional photographer at least once a year!

Anyway, since I've had quite a few people asking for sessions with me lately, I've been really getting into it. I only shoot in manual mode (unless I'm just snapping a quick shot of C or something), and I've really been trying to get out of my comfort zone and get some artistic shots. I can tell I'm getting better, though I definitely wouldn't call myself a pro! I really love taking pictures, though. And for the first time in my life, I'm starting to think maybe this hobby could turn into a source of income for me. In time. I would love that!

But back to the point of this post. I've been studying professional newborn photos and getting ideas for my great nephew's session. Last week, I came across a technique that I thought was awesome - bokeh. Now, bokeh basically just means that something is out of focus, so that it creates a pleasing blurry effect in the picture. Normally, the background is bokeh, but I've seen shots where some of the foreground is blurred. I achieve this effect all the time in my shots. I love for the subject to be crisp and completely in focus, but the background to be nice and blurred. I had no idea the term was "bokeh," though.

I kept seeing bokeh shots with pretty Christmas lights in the background, blurred. Well, its actually pretty simple to achieve that effect, but it does take some practice. I studied up on it last week and then went to the dollar store to get my supplies - Christmas lights (with white strands) and a white sheet for a backdrop. Saturday morning, I set up my "studio" spot and got to work. After a few tries, I got it!
Can you tell that's actually a white shower curtain? The store I went to had plenty of sheets, but none plain white like I wanted. I was about to give up and head to WalMart when I noticed the shower curtains. For the baby's session, obviously we'll have a basket or something with soft blankets to lay him on, but the shower curtain will give a nice white background. I actually bought two, so I can use one on the floor if needed. Plus, it helps bounce light back onto my subject.

I tried to get C to sit still for a few test shots, but that was easier said than done! She was snackin on Cheetos and just wouldn't be still, haha.
I wouldn't say I've "mastered" this technique just yet, but I feel confident that I can get some good shots with this backdrop. My niece loves the idea, so she'll be game to try it, at least. Of course, we'll do some "normal" backgrounds, too.
Nemo had to get in on the bokeh action, too! His shots didn't turn out quite like I wanted, but by that point C was getting antsy with me ignoring her. ( ;

So here's a wide shot of my setup. I took this to help myself remember what I did.
Nice, huh? Haha. Clearly, I need to get more lights. That's on my agenda for today. I want to have a wider area with lights. When I bought these, I had no idea how this would all work, so I wasn't sure how many to buy. And I bought mini strands. I think I'll try to find regular length strands today. DH even suggested icicle lights. We actually have a bunch of those, but I'm hoping he'll put those on the house in the next few weeks, so I want to have a special set just for this purpose.

I've been brainstorming ideas of how to hang the backdrop for indoor sessions like this. Here, I just draped the shower curtain over our china hutch, and then taped the light strands to it. But at other people's houses, I might not have that option. Plus, I need a way to drape the lights so that they are higher. And maybe put a table in front so the subject is elevated...hmmm, now there's an idea! (I had the tractor and Nemo on a stool, and C was in a chair, but obviously I can't do either with a newborn.) Either way, I definitely need more lights to make it wider.

I'm really having fun learning more about photography. I thought it might be hard to admit that I'm not as good as I think I am, and that I have more to learn, but honestly, its not been hard at all, and I've been enjoying the process. I like seeing my photos improve over time. Photography has been something that's interested me for a long time, and for as long as I can remember I've wanted to take a class. So in a way, I'm kinda living my dream by pursuing this. I hope to take a real class next year. And get more equipment (like an external flash!). And gain some actual paying clients. I did have someone contact me last week about doing a (paid!) session, so hopefully that will happen soon.

I'm in the process of creating a facebook page for my photography "business," and seeing where it takes me. Eventually, if things go well, I'll do a separate blog and website, too. Who knows? Maybe this will make me some money one day. Wouldn't that be nice? My sister is always telling me about a woman she knows who started out just like me and learned as she went. Now she has a successful photography business and that's her full-time job. That would be awesome, cause then I could be with my child more. I tend to get really caught up in my dreams, so I'm trying really hard not to let myself get my hopes too high with this one!

Last weekend, I shot a session for my friend's 2 year old son. I was happy with that session, too.
This was in the field behind my house. I was pretty nervous about this session, since I know from experience how 2 year olds can be! But he did really well and let me get some super cute shots of his adorable smile.

My aunt is getting married in January, and she's asked me to be the official photographer. That makes me nervous, even though I've done two weddings before (two of my cousins couldn't afford a photographer, so I shot their weddings, and was actually pretty proud of my work, even though that was pre-Nikon for me). It makes me nervous because this time I'll expect much more of myself, since I have a fancier camera and I know more now than I did. Plus, it'll be indoor, and indoor shots always make me nervous. I'll be studying up a lot between now and then!

After my niece had the baby on Friday, my sister told me that I better be preparing myself to be the photographer at her wedding, as well. So I guess that's two weddings I'll shoot next year. Yikes. Unfortunately, I won't make money at either of those events, but hopefully they'll help me build my portfolio and get some paying clients one day.

Next up, I gotta figure out how to put a "watermark" with my logo on my photos! I did it once, but it took forever. There's gotta be a simple way to add a watermark to multiple photos, right? I mean, if I'm gonna start advertising on facebook, I need my name on my shots so people will know its my work! Whether this venture actually works out or not remains to be seen, but even if it doesn't I'm gonna have fun learning, and if nothing else, I'll get some cool shots of my family along the way! ( :



Last week, I talked about some changes I wanted to make in my home life. Well, its been a week since I wrote that, and I can happily say I am well on my way to making those changes! Not all of them, mind you. But hey, you gotta start somewhere, right?

Every morning now, while I'm eating my peanut butter toast, I've been doing a Bible study instead of scrolling through facebook. (Well, technically, I do both. My Bible study only takes a few minutes. I don't rush it, but when I'm done, then I allow myself to check facebook/instagram.) I'm reading through a study called "The Excellent Wife Day By Day." I think that's the title. I've blogged about it before. I really like it. I actually started it earlier this year, but forgot about it, so I just picked up where I left off a few months ago.

I've been a LOT better about not using my "technology" once I'm home with C. "Technology" meaning the iPad (unless I need to look up a recipe). Once I consciously decided to stop looking at it so much, it wasn't too hard to enforce the new rule. When I get home, I turn the iPad to silent, so I don't hear when I get new e-mails or facebook messages. It goes on the shelf next to my rocking chair, and I don't touch it until I sit down to rock C. During the week, this rule hasn't proven to be very hard for me to follow, but it was tougher on the weekend, for some reason. I found myself picking up the iPad several times over the weekend when I could have been doing something more productive. But, I was better than I normally am, so that's something!

So far, I haven't been able to get back into meal planning yet. DH knows I want to do it, and I say every day that I'm gonna start. I haven't quite found the time to start yet, though. Hopefully tonight. Actually, I fully intended to make a meal plan on Sunday night. I went to the grocery store and got a bunch of good staples like chicken. But C has been pretty sick - more on that in a minute - so that's been preventing me from doing anything "extra" these past few days. Hopefully tonight I can complete at least Phase 1 of meal planning - making a list of everything that's in the freezer, fridge, and pantry so I can begin to formulate meals based on what we have. That's how I started last time, and it really worked. Then, once I use up what we already have, I can make plans and shop based on that.

Budgeting hasn't happened yet, either, for the same reasons listed above. I'm not stressing about it, though. I'll get to it eventually.

So here's the real purpose of this post. I said that C has been pretty sick. Well, she actually has pneumonia. Thankfully, we caught it before it became too serious. Her and I have both been sick with sinus infections for several weeks now.  Both of us were on antibiotics. The drugs didn't help me much, and 4 weeks later I am still congested. C got better, but then last week started to get worse again. I just assumed her sinus infection hadn't been cleared up, and maybe she needed another antibiotic. She was acting just fine, so I decided to wait a few more days and see if she got over it on her own.

Saturday, she seemed pretty tired and cranky off and on, but that's not too unusual for her on the weekends, so I didn't think much of it. Sunday morning, she was acting like herself, and she had a good time in her Sunday School class. During church, she started feeling bad, and wanted me to hold her, which is highly unusual for my child. After her nap, she seemed much better, so we played outside for a few hours. But that afternoon, she started coughing more and more, and by that night she was coughing almost nonstop. I still figured it was just allergies/sinus infection. As the night wore on, she felt worse and worse. We did everything we could to stop her coughing and make her feel better, but nothing helped. Finally, she fell asleep while I was rocking her. I noticed she was breathing very rapidly, but I didn't know what to think about it..

Yesterday morning, I took C to the walk in clinic at her pediatrician. She got a breathing treatment because her lungs sounded "junky." After that, the doctor made the diagnosis - pneumonia! She said it was because her sinus infection didn't clear up. So I was partly right. We left with a prescription for another antibiotic and an inhaler. She's already doing much better than she was, though my mother-in-law says she's not eating today and is laying around more than usual. Hopefully it won't take her long to get back to normal.

But during this time of her being so sick and not wanting to eat much, I am so thankful that she is still breastfeeding. Yes, she will be 3 years old next month (woah!) and she still breastfeeds. And I'm not ashamed of it. I don't flaunt it. I don't make a point to tell everyone I know. Mainly because most people just don't get it and think its gross. Its not gross to me. Its just natural. C hasn't shown any signs of being ready to wean, and I haven't felt the need to make her. If it ain't broke, why fix it, right? I plan to post more about breastfeeding soon, but for now I'm just thankful for it. Because even when she's not eating, I can still know that at least she's getting nutrients from my breast milk, and she's getting awesome immune system-building stuff (technical, huh?). She's been asking for milk a little more than usual the past few days, and I've just been going with it. If it makes her feel better, and provides her with some nutrition, why not?


Fall Changes

Ah, life. I feel like I'm so busy all the time, but when I look back and try to write about what's been going on that's had me so busy, I come up empty-handed. What have I been doing with myself?? I've come to the conclusion that just life in general is busy and crazy. Even when I don't have events going on. And that's okay. Its my life, and I love it. ( :

Not all the time, of course. Well, maybe I shouldn't say that, exactly. Its not that I have true moments when I just hate my life. Hate certain situations, yes. Either way you look at it, I'm not happy-go-lucky all the time. My glass is not always half full.

I'm on the quest to find a new blog to follow. I know, I know, I need another blog to read like I need another hole in my head. But this blog I'm looking for will be different. All of the blogs I follow are written by stay-at-home-moms. And I love that. For them. I'm truly happy that these women can be with their kids every day. And I love that they have enough time to blog so people like me can read and learn from them.

But its hard to relate to SAHMs. And I feel like maybe they can't really relate to women like me, who have to work full-time and still figure out how to manage a family. I would love to be able to stay home with my daughter (and any future kids we may be blessed with), and I would love to eventually homeschool her, but right now that's not a possibility. No, I'm not giving up my dream of doing just that. Maybe one day it'll happen. But its time to stop daydreaming and start living in the here and now.

I'll still follow my beloved blogs by the SAHMs - they are good inspiration for me, and I truly love reading their stuff. I just want to find a good blogger who is a working mama. There's got to be some of us out there, right? Or are we all just too busy to do it all and blog about it? Cause I know that's my problem. I struggle with keeping up with all my normal, every day stuff - throwing a blog into the mix is almost impossible. Which is why this baby doesn't get updated daily. Or even weekly sometimes.

I want to read about someone else who is struggling like I am. Struggling with having to be away from home 50+ hours a week and not having enough time after work to get things done that need to be done. Struggling with the fact that I leave my child every day to be raised by someone else. Struggling with the fact that I miss out on so many moments with her, and that I missed so many of her firsts. Struggling with coming home and trying to be the wife God has called me to be, and the mother He has called me to be, all while being exhausted from working all day. Struggling to cook good meals for my family when I am home just a few waking hours every day. Struggling with wanting to spend time with my daughter after work, but needing to wash clothes and cook supper, etc.

Don't get me wrong, I know SAHMs struggle, too. I know they're busy. I know that. I know when you're home all day with a toddler or a baby its hard to get stuff done, and I know how an entire day can go by without you realizing it. But its still a different struggle. Cause us working moms have to deal with all that, plus our mommy-guilt over not being with our kids all day. At least, I do. Every day, it kills me to leave C with her grandma. Even though I know my MIL is doing an excellent job with her, and C is shaping up to be a nicely mannered girl.

So when I get home at 5:45 with her, I want to just drop everything and play with her, make memories with her, do stuff with her. Instead, I have time to take just a few minutes to talk with her, maybe read a quick story, then I have to rush around and start supper, do laundry, what have you. Otherwise, I'll spend my entire Saturday doing nothing but cleaning. As it is, I spend at least 1-2 hours on Saturdays just cleaning. And I feel guilty for doing that, cause Saturdays are supposed to be our days together. Guilt is so powerful.

Sure, C helps me around the house. She likes to "help" in the kitchen when I cook - but not all the time. She likes to help get clothes out of the dryer, or put them in. She likes to help hang wet clothes on the drying rack. She likes to "sweep" with her little broom while I sweep the house. So we're spending time together, and I have to remind myself that that's what's important. It doesn't really matter what we're doing. And I know that having her help me do housework is good for her.

But some nights I lay her in her bed and think wow, we didn't do anything fun tonight. We just worked. And it makes me sad.

So, I'm gonna make a few changes in my life. (Again. I feel like I am constantly doing that! But I guess that's good, cause it means I am constantly trying to improve myself, right?) Three weeks ago, my iPhone was stolen. (Yeah, that was a fun day.) Since then, my boss hasn't given me a new one. At first, I was pretty bummed, and couldn't wait for a new phone. Now, though, I kind of like it. I didn't realize how attached I was to that thing. I still have my other cell phone, so I've gone back to using it. I can talk and text on it, and that's it. Sometimes it would be nice to have a smart phone (like when I need directions!), but for the most part, I don't need it. Its been nice to be "unplugged" a bit. I don't have my phone attached to my hand at all times anymore, so I'm not constantly checking facebook and my email. Or taking random pictures. I have, however, taken way more "real" photos with my nice camera.

However, I still have the iPad. Its big and bulky and heavy, and I don't like using it, but its easier than my laptop, so I do use it quite a bit now. I don't use it to check email and facebook as much as I was with the phone, but I still do it more than necessary. So I'm gonna put a stop to that. Starting tonight. Tonight, I will not touch the iPad until I'm rocking C to sleep. Instead of taking a few minutes after supper (and before bath time) to scroll through facebook, I'm gonna play with my daughter. I'm gonna squeeze in as much time with her as possible. When she's asleep and I lay her down, I'm gonna put the iPad away for the night. If I don't go right to bed, I'm gonna talk to my husband. Instead of ignoring him like its so easy for me to do.

And tomorrow morning when I'm eating my breakfast, instead of opening up the iPad and checking facebook and Instagram, I'm gonna do a Bible study. It just hit me earlier today that during breakfast is the perfect time for me to do Bible study. I always eat alone, since DH is gone by then and C's not up yet, but every morning I eat and stare at the iPad. I attempt to do Bible study at night, after C is asleep, but I'm normally too exhausted to do it then, and some nights I don't even lay her down until 11 or after, then I need to get to sleep myself. So breakfast and Bible study it is. I'm kinda excited to start tomorrow. And I wish I had thought of this sooner!

What else? Well, I'm finally gonna make a budget. I've been talking about it for a year almost, and its time to get serious. That's my plan tonight, actually. I want to sit down with DH and get him to help me. I want to be smarter with my money. Even if I'm never able to be a SAHM, I need to do this. And if I'm ever gonna be able to be a SAHM, I need to do this. No matter how you look at it, I need to do this!

Starting this week, I'm also gonna get back into meal planning. I haven't done it for several months, and supper time has been so stressful. This time, though, I want to do it a little differently. I want to meal plan and shop accordingly. The last time I did meal planning, I just planned meals based on what we had already. Which was fine, and its a good way to go through your pantry/freezer/frigde. I'll be doing that again, and then when its time to buy groceries, I want to shop with a plan of what we'll be cooking. Eventually, I want to try once a month shopping, but at first I think weekly or hopefully bi-weekly shopping will do. We need to cut out these little quick grocery store trips. And I want to cut out all this eating out we've been doing lately. (Well, its only once a week or so, but it adds up!)

The last change I want to make is to employ a home management schedule. I started one a while back and stuck to it for a while, but for whatever reason I just abandoned it. I need to go back and think on that, figure out what went wrong so I don't make the same mistakes this time around. My house cleaning goal is to do a little bit every day, so that I can have the weekends to have fun. A little cleaning on Saturdays is okay, but I don't want to be doing heavy cleaning every Saturday. Plus, more often than not, I end up gone for at least part of the day on Saturdays, so my house needs to be in order prior to that.

In reality, I end up just doing the bare minimum during the week (keeping the kitchen clean, washing clothes, sweeping - which is a daily task for me), and on Saturday mornings I find myself having to vacuum, dust, clean the bathrooms, etc. Luckily, it doesn't take me all day since I live in a small house. But I feel like I could be using my time better during the week.

No, I don't have a lot of time between the time I get home from work and the time I put C to bed, and I want to spend as much time with her as possible, but I also want to spend as much time with her on Saturdays as possible. If that means sacrificing just a few more minutes with her each night to do something quick (like wiping down the bathrooms so they don't need to be scrubbed on the weekend), then so be it. More likely, it'll mean "sacrificing" a few minutes on facebook each evening. I can do that. I'm already halfway there, since I don't have the easy temptation of the iPhone to deal with anymore. I can do it!

Okay, normally when I write things down and blog about it, I do it. Hopefully that'll be the case this time. This blog will hold me accountable, like it has for so many other things before. Wish me luck! Oh, and if you know of any bloggers who are in my situation, please share! Cause I truly want to read about other women like me! ( :


Green Smoothie Challenge - Update

Let me just say this: being sick SUCKS! Especially when it seems I am like this all the dang time. Seriously, wasn't I just sick a few months ago?! This time my allergies got the best of me and I've ended up with a sinus infection. I'm on Day 4 of antibiotics and prednisone and I'm not much better. Hopefully I won't have to go back to the doctor to get a different drug...ugh.

So, since I've felt so terrible for the past 10 days, I haven't bothered with making green smoothies. Last Monday, I made one that I thought was a favorite of mine (Berry Cold Fighter), and it wasn't quite up to par, but I think that the taste was affected by my allergies. I wish I could remember what I made after that, but it was horrible. Undrinkable. And then I tried one that I just knew I'd love (it had romaine lettuce, fresh mint, and cocoa powder), and it was nasty. So after that, I got discouraged, and that combined with feeling so crappy just made me say "forget it" to the whole green smoothie train.

Actually, yesterday I had planned to make a smoothie. I wanted to make Berry Tang again. I figured the kiwi, blueberries, and orange juice would be good for me and help me fight this infection. Unfortunately, we were out of OJ, so that didn't happen. Yeah, I could have just made a different recipe, but my brain was too fried from all the snot in my head (lol, sorry) to think of anything else.

Today, I decided I wanted a smoothie but not necessarily a green one. So I made my old stand-by: almond milk, banana, and peanut butter. It was delicious.

However, it has made my mucus situation so much worse. I read recently that milk is bad for mucus cause it makes it worse. I assumed that was just cow's milk, but now I think it means any type of milk. Almond milk included. Bummer. I'll have to remember tomorrow NOT to make this recipe! At least not until I am cleared up.

My two friends that have been doing this green smoothie challenge with me have kind of fallen off the bandwagon, too. So at least I'm not alone. Last week, I was really beating myself up about failing at this challenge. But then I realized that its a challenge, not a sentence. When I signed up for this challenge, my goal was just to start incorporating green smoothies into my normal diet, and maybe even be inspired to eat a little healthier. I wanted to feel better physically. I didn't think that I'd have to consume a smoothie every single day of my life. I also wanted to try new things, push my taste buds a little, if you will.

After the first week, when I was reaping all the benefits of green smoothies (I remember how awesome I felt that week!), I said I definitely had to have a green smoothie every single day, or else I wouldn't feel that good. That may be true. Its hard to say now, though, since I'm sick. Would green smoothies help me feel better this week? I'm not sure. But for sure, before I got sick, on days I didn't have a green smoothie I felt different - less energy, not quite up to par.

But you know what? I've realized that green smoothies don't have to be "do or die." I'm not gonna beat myself up if I don't have a smoothie every morning. And I'm not gonna push myself to try "weird" ingredients, either. I'm pretty proud of myself for trying the things I did. Heck, for even trying a GREEN smoothie! Who would have thought I'd like blended up spinach and kale?!

During this challenge, I tried 3 different types of greens - spinach, kale, and romaine. I made myself try mangoes again, even though in the past I didn't like them. I tried chia seeds. I tried combinations of ingredients that didn't sound quite so tasty to me. Some pleasantly surprised me, and some were so gross I couldn't stomach them. But I tried. That's the point. One of the points, at least.

Week 3 recipes were all about extra greens. Normally, the ratio for green smoothies is 60:40 (60 for fruit and 40 for greens), but that week, the ratio was flip-flopped. I may end up trying some of those recipes, but I'm not gonna stress about it. I'm not exactly keen on the idea of consuming quite so much greens like that daily - just a little bit goes a long way with me, I've found! I couldn't even tell you what types of recipes are on the list for this last week of the challenge. I just haven't felt well enough to really read the e-mail and think about it.

But what I've decided to do (when I start feeling better, and the thought of drinking a green smoothie doesn't make my stomach churn) is stick with the recipes that I really enjoyed earlier in the challenge. I may end up trying a few new ones here and there, but only if it really sounds like something I'll enjoy. And I'm not gonna be buying crazy ingredients anymore, either. For instance, last week I purchased almond butter for a recipe. I have yet to try that recipe since I got sick and discouraged about the smoothies. I tasted the almond butter, hoping that I'd love it and want to use it on toast and stuff (like peanut butter). I love almonds. But I am not crazy about almond butter. I'm gonna try that smoothie that calls for it because it sounds good to me, and if I don't like it, that jar of almond butter will probably be donated to my friend, lol. From here on out, I'm gonna stick with things I know for sure I like. I can still see plenty of benefits from green smoothies without going crazy and trying new recipes every single day.

So hopefully in the next few days, I'll get back into making and drinking green smoothies, at least a few times a week. I'm really glad I accepted this challenge because I have learned a lot. Its also brought me a little closer to two of my good friends. We've been doing almost daily e-mails talking about our smoothies every day. So that's been nice. ( :

Let me just say, though, that I am so glad I didn't go out and buy a super expensive fancy blender like I had contemplated! I don't see myself continuing to consume green smoothies daily, so I don't think it would get enough use to justify the purchase. That being said, if my el-cheapo blender blows up, I will probably get a more expensive one. My friend just got a Ninja Pro and she loves it. I'll admit, it looks pretty cool. And who knows? Maybe I'll surprise myself and end up doing green smoothies every day like a health food freak! ( ;


Office Organization

Last Thursday, a friend brought lunch to my office. I guess having someone other than my boss see my work area made me see the space with new eyes. Suddenly, I couldn't stand how junky my desk was! I decided that day that I would organize my work space.

On Friday, I headed to Staples to check out what kind of office organization supplies they had. I immediately grabbed a cart and was all ready to load her up, when I decided to call my friend for advice. She advised me not to purchase anything yet, but to think first about what I wanted from the space, and how I wanted it to look and function. Okay, solid advice. It was hard, but I forced myself to step away from the organizers and leave!

I knew I couldn't go crazy in here. My boss uses the other side of my desk, and he wouldn't appreciate anything too girlie. He likes things to be kept professional around here, which is fine. We already had some black mesh wire things, so I decided to stick with that theme for simplicity.

Well, I thought about it all weekend, and yesterday decided to just go to Office Depot (because its closer to my office than Staples) and get whatever I thought I could use, and return what I didn't end up using. I think I had way too much fun with this project!

First, let's take a look at the "before" shots. Beware, its pretty bad.
I know, I know. How did I work like that???! Amazingly, I knew exactly where everything was there. It might not have looked organized, but I had a system.
This is the area to the left of my desk. (Well, its all one big desk.) Again, even though everything was jumbled and gross-looking, I knew exactly where everything was.
This is the area to the right of my desk. Everything was just piled around. Yuck.

How about a close-up of my desk area? *shudder*
So distracting!

Okay, now how about some refreshing "after" shots? ( :

I took everything off the space and cleaned it really well (uh, hello, dust bunnies!). I sorted everything into piles and tried to think about where I wanted everything to go. For the most part, I liked the overall placement of things, it was just too much going on. I'll just let the "after" pictures speak for themselves.
Ahhh....MUCH better, huh? I feel like my desk is 3 times as big now! I love how open it is under my screens now.
This area didn't change a whole lot, but I think its a big improvement. I love the sorter that holds the binders in the middle. No more falling over binders!
I love my little pen/highlighter/note pad station! Its kind of hard to see (iPad pics, sorry), but I corralled all my everyday supplies (stamps, paperclips, binder clips, hole puncher, stapler, and my stress relieving slinky!) on the top shelf of those stackable trays. At first I had those just neatly placed on the desk, but I realized how much nicer it looked to have them corralled in a tray like that.

So far, I'm very happy with this arrangement! My boss was happy too, so that's a nice bonus.

Oh, I did one other little project at work yesterday, too. I updated my invoice paying system! (How nerdy is it that I'm super excited about this?!) My previous system was just a regular folder with 2 pockets (which was absolutely falling apart). Not very efficient. So I bought this handy dandy expanding file folder and I think I'm gonna like using it for invoices.
I know I'm not the only one who goes gaga for office supplies and organization, cause I read too many blogs to think otherwise! I don't have a home office (well, we have one, but its my husband's; I don't use it, so I don't get to organize or decorate it), so it was fun to get the chance to do something like this. Yep, I'm a nerd! ( :


Today Is Definitely Monday

So, its really hard to blog about green smoothies all the time. I mean, there's only so much you can say about them, without being a blog dedicated to them and their healthy goodness (like Simple Green Smoothies). All the pictures I take of my smoothies look the same, so that's boring. Oh well!

On Friday I made a smoothie called Peaches n' Cream. It was okay, definitely not my favorite. If I remember correctly, it had spinach, almond milk, frozen peaches, and a banana in it. The actual recipe called for coconut water (or milk?), but I didn't have that, so I used my almond milk. Well, my almond milk is actually vanilla flavored, which I hate. So all I could taste in this smoothie was peaches and vanilla. It really tasted like homemade peach ice cream. My husband would have loved it. I will probably try the recipe again with regular almond milk, since the vanilla taste was way too strong for me.

This weekend, I fell of the green smoothie train. I just didn't fell like messing with the blender and everything. On Saturday, DH got up early to go hunting, and C slept in her crib until almost 9. And you can bet this mama was in her bed until then, too!! It was glorious sleeping in like that. It put me in a rush the rest of the day, but that's okay, it was worth it. The rest of the morning, I ran around the house like a mad woman, trying to get some cleaning done. I was pretty proud of what I accomplished before lunch. After lunch, C and I headed to my mama's church, where we helped prepare for my Grandma's surprise birthday party.

The party was yesterday, and it was a success. Grandma turns 90 tomorrow, and we always go out to eat or have a girls' weekend with her, but this year we wanted a big shin dig, and that's exactly what we had! Around 200 people came out to celebrate that woman with us. It was awesome. We treated it like a wedding reception - tons of food and the fellowship hall was decorated to perfection. (Well, I thought it was! haha) It was exhausting, but worth it because Grandma was happily surprised and had a great time. I was the official photographer, but I left my memory card at home today so I can't even look at the pictures. :( The plan is to make Grandma a photo book of the party. Hopefully I'll have time to get that done this week...

Today I made a green smoothie that is normally my favorite - Berry Cold Fighter. But today I just wasn't digging it. It was all I could do to force myself to drink it, and I left a few sips in my cup. I'm probably just getting run down from everything going on lately. On top of everything else, God has put it on my heart to try to help out my husband's brother and his wife, who had their baby last weekend. I've intended to make them a casserole for 2 days now, and haven't had a chance yet, so that's on my to-do list for tonight. That, and laundry (why is laundry so never-ending??!), and cooking supper, and cleaning the kitchen, and taking care of C.....argh. Exhausts me just thinking about it.

Okay, enough complaining! Today at work I'm workin on a sort of personal project. I'm updating/organizing my desk space! I'm super excited about it, and I'll post about it when its done. ( :


Challenge Update

Life has kept me way too busy this week to even think about blogging! Rest assured, though, I'm still participating in the 30 Day Green Smoothie Challenge and loving it!

We're on day 10 now, and I'm still amazed at how much better I feel since starting this challenge. There have been 2 days when I didn't have a green smoothie, and the difference in the way I felt those days was extremely noticeable. As an added bonus, I've lost a little water weight these past 10 days. I'm not trying to lose weight, and don't think I need to. BUT all of my pants were pretty tight (and some were downright uncomfortable) as of late. I don't have extra money to buy all new pants in a size up (even though I would be totally fine going a size up - I seriously don't have body image issues), but I also wasn't down with "dieting" to lose a little weight. Somehow, adding green smoothies to my normal diet has slimmed me back down so that my pants are comfortable again. Yay! Now I just have to be careful, because once I start losing pounds, my body sometimes goes crazy and loses too much. I ain't tryin to look like a twig! ( ;

I wondered when I started the challenge if drinking green smoothies every day would prompt me to eat healthier in general. You know, no more cakes and cookies and candy. So far, that hasn't happened. I've had a slice of ho ho cake almost every day this week, and I don't feel guilty about it. In fact, I'm kind of doing the opposite. When I want a sweet treat, I justify it because I had my green smoothie that morning. haha!

Let's see. The last time I blogged, I said I was going to take the leftover Orange Jewels smoothie and add a banana to see if that improved the taste for me. I blended the heck out of that smoothie Saturday morning before heading to church. And it was still full of pulp! The banana also didn't improve the flavor at all. I forced myself to drink almost all of it, though, since I knew I'd need the energy. And boy, did I need the energy! I was at the church from 10am until after 6pm. I wasn't working that whole time, but it was still exhausting. Oh, and HOT. Seriously, it doesn't matter how mild or cool the weather is around here in late September, it never fails that on Harvest Sale day the temps will spike back into the 90s. Yuck. (This week, its been chilly and rainy here, and while I don't care for the rain, bring on the chill in the air!!)

On Sunday, I didn't get a chance to make a green smoothie. I still haven't decided how Sundays will go on this challenge. Normally, I eat a regular breakfast, then drink my smoothie on the way to work, and it lasts for an hour or 2 after I get to work. On Sundays, I don't have that kind of time, and I can't be sippin on a smoothie during church. Maybe smoothies will become my Sunday afternoon snack?

At any rate, we were woken up early that morning with a call from DH's family. His brother and his wife were at the hospital in labor. The hospital was over an hour away, but we didn't rush to get there, since we knew we wouldn't be able to see the baby for a while. I won't go into details, but that entire day was stressful and frustrating. Mama and baby were both totally fine, though, thank goodness. And to top it off, my iPhone was stolen at the hospital! The police are working on it, but I'm pretty sure I'll never see that phone again. :(

Anyway, I don't know if it was the lack of a green smoothie that morning, or the super stressful day in general, or a combination of the two, but I felt terrible that day. I had slept well the night before, so it wasn't lack of sleep that dragged me down. I just felt incredibly tired and almost hung over all day. After that, I decided not to skip any days of green smoothies if I could help it.

After my bad experience with the Orange Jewels recipe, I decided on Monday morning to stick with something I knew I loved, so I made another Berry Cold Fighter (kale, mixed berries, pineapple, banana, and water). No problem gettin that one down! And I felt much better all day Monday.

On Tuesday, I decided to try one of the Week 2 recipes. I also decided to be brave and try something I have never liked - mangoes.

I made the Cream Machine recipe (spinach, water, avocado, banana, and mango). YUCK! I just couldn't handle the mango. I brought to work with me and made a very valiant effort to get it down, but I just couldn't. However, I think I consumed just enough not to affect the way I felt that day, so that was a plus. That experience taught me that I don't even need to consider any recipes with mangoes in them. They're just not for me. (Luckily, that night I let my mama try the smoothie, and she loved it, so she drank it and took my extra mango home with her. I hate wasting food.)

Yesterday, I decided to try another new recipe. I had a feeling I'd like this one, and thankfully I was right!

Sweet Tang

  • 2 cups kale
  • 2 cups orange juice (I just used store-bought juice since I HATE PULP! lol)
  • 2 cup frozen blueberries
  • 3 frozen kiwis
  • 3 tablespoons soaked chia seeds

I cut the recipe in half, just in case. But it was delicious!
It wasn't really that dark. It was a very nice purple color. And yes, there were a ton of seeds in this one, but for some reason I liked that. (I'm so weird with textures!)

Yesterday was also the first time I tried chia seeds. I got a couple of teaspoons from my friend. After some research, I just threw them in a small bowl with some water (in a 4:1 ratio):
Chia seeds are supposedly a super food. You can read all about them (just do a google search), but they're supposed to be chock-full of nutrients and protein. Some people sprinkle them on top of smoothies, but if they're soaked over night more of their good stuff is released, plus it thickens up smoothies nicely.
Its hard to tell in a picture, but after they're soaked they have a gel-like consistency. I couldn't detect any taste at all, and I definitely didn't notice them in the smoothie.

Week 2's recipes are supposed to be thicker and heartier, and you can use them as meal replacements. That's why you add chia seeds to this recipe. Maybe I didn't add enough (I think I did 2 teaspoons instead of tablespoons - whoops), but this smoothie didn't fill me up for long - no more than any of the other smoothies I've tried. So the jury's still out on whether I'll purchase my own chia seeds. I have some chia gel leftover, and I'll add that to another recipe and decide after that.

Today, I went out on another limb and tried another new recipe: Pumpkin Spice. My reaction to it? Eh.

Pumpkin Spice

  • 2 cups spinach
  • 2 cups almond milk
  • 1 cup plain, unsweetened canned pumpkin
  • 1 frozen banana
  • 1 cup mango (which I LEFT OUT!)
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin spice
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

I didn't hate it, but I definitely didn't love it either. I don't think I'd ever had pumpkin until this morning, so it was a pretty big assault on my taste buds. It was super smooth, though, and I liked that. It was missing something, though. I think it needed more sweetness. Which is probably why the recipe calls for mango. Maybe I should try to substitute a different fruit?

Tomorrow I think I'll try the Peaches 'n Cream recipe (spinach, coconut milk - which I didn't purchase, so I'll just use almond milk -, banana, and peaches). I'm not a huge fan of peaches (except by themselves), but I'm gonna try it. I'll be back tomorrow with another update! ( :


Challenge Day 4

Aaaaaaand, we're back to boring post titles! Oh well.

Today I prepared a green smoothie called Orange Jewels. That is such a weird name for a smoothie. I was pretty skeptical about this recipe, because it calls for 2 oranges. I like oranges, don't get me wrong. By themselves. I don't like orange flavored stuff, and I don't like oranges mixed with other stuff. I'm not a tropical, fruity, citrusy-flavored gal. Plus, oranges tend to make my reflux flare up, so I try to avoid them like the plague.

But, in the name of trying new things for this green smoothie challenge, I was down with tryin out an Orange Jewels smoothie. It wasn't bad tasting. It just wasn't wonderful to me. Way too much citrus. Though that could have been because I messed up a bit...

Here's the recipe:

  • 2 cups spinach
  • 1 1/2 cups almond milk, unsweetened
  • 1 teaspoon fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 banana
  • 2 oranges, peeled
  • 1 cup pineapple
  • 2 teaspoons spirulina, optional

Very fruity. First off, I do not have any spirulina. I hear its an excellent source of protein, and if I can find some easily I will probably try it. I'm not stressing about it, though. One of my friends uses it in her green smoothies and says it doesn't alter the taste, though it is quite green.

Okay, so this morning I gathered my ingredients and right away thought I had a problem. I looked in the bag where my oranges and one lemon were and couldn't find the lemon! This is proof that I am clearly not a morning person, because the lemon was right there in front of me. I guess I was expecting it to be super yellow. But it was a very pale orange color. Maybe because it was organic? (I don't normally buy organic fruits and vegetables, but at Harris Teeter earlier this week I was so overwhelmed and didn't realize until it was too late that many of the produce I bought was, in fact, organic. And thus expensive.) Anyway, once I reassured myself that the pale orange in front of me was, in fact, a lemon, I started preparing the smoothie.

I blended my almond milk and spinach first, like always (this helps to make sure the greens really get blended well - no chunks, thank you very much!). Then I halved the orange-lemon and squeezed what I assumed was about a teaspoon into the blender (who has time to measure?!). So far so good. Next, I peeled the oranges and threw them in piece by piece, blending well before each addition. I do NOT like pulp AT ALL, so I really tried to cut that out. (And failed.) After that, I threw in the banana (frozen) and some pineapple chunks (also frozen) and kept blending for a while.

While that bad boy was blending away, I started to clean up. My intentions were to save the lemon and use it in my water. I don't like to waste anything, and I love lemon slices in water (though I never buy lemons for that purpose; too expensive). But when I turned back to my cutting board, nothing remained. Okay, I thought, I probably just put the lemon in the fridge and didn't even process the thought. Please tell me I'm not the only person who does stuff like that all the time!! Nope, not in the fridge. Not in the trash. Then I realized that I must have threw the lemon into the blender with the oranges! This is what I get for tryin to make fancy stuff in the morning (haha).

The smoothie looked beautiful to me:
But, boy, the citrus scent was overwhelming! I tasted it and didn't hate it, so I knew I could drink it. I poured half of it into my gorgeous new bling cup and put it in the fridge.
I grabbed it on the way out the door. C asked to taste it (she tasted the Berry Cold Fighter smoothie yesterday, too), and she said she liked it, but didn't want a second sip. I sipped on it all the way to work, but the pulp was disgusting to me. I seriously have a huge problem with pulp. I don't know if maybe I should have blended this for longer, or if I just need a better blender to accomplish no pulp, but this was unacceptable to me. Surprisingly, the flavor was okay, though since it was so citrusy, its not something I'd want very often. Just not my cup of tea smoothie.

I forced myself to keep sipping at work, telling myself that despite the pulp, this smoothie was awesome and really good for me. It worked until I was down to the last few sips, then I just couldn't do it anymore. "A" for effort, though, right?

Since I have another serving left, I'm gonna blend in a banana tomorrow morning and sip it tomorrow during our church's annual harvest sale. Hopefully the banana will make it taste better, and maybe more blending will get rid of some pulp. Either way, I'm gonna make myself drink it cause Lord knows I'll need some energy tomorrow. I'll be working the drive-thru (with one of my challenge buddies!), which means I'll be on my feet and running around (in the 85 degree heat - seriously, Earth, its FALL, get with the program!!) from 10-2. And after that, we'll have an auction which usually lasts until 6pm or so. Yep, I'll definitely be glad I'll have the power of greens in me tomorrow! (Oh, jeez, that was super lame.)