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An online diary of my everyday life featuring tips and tricks I've learned along the way.

JANUARY MEAL PLANNER

Anyone trying to be more organized in the new year and plan meals in advance?  Each year I print out a blank yearly calendar and make it a goal to fill in meal ideas a month at a time.  I would say I manage to complete this task 4 to 5 months out of the year, but it is very helpful when I actually make time to do it.  In the past I’ve shared my meal plans & recipe links here on the blog so I thought I would share again in the new year.

When I plan for a month, I pick one day a week and make it a “leftovers” day to clean out the fridge.  Sometimes I will pick a weekend day and mark it “dinner out”.  Inevitably, we will eat one meal out a month so I just move things around as needed throughout the month.  As we fix the meal, I cross it off the calendar.

Another thing I’ve started doing in the new year is ordering my groceries online.  Oh! My! Gosh!  It is SO nice not stepping foot into the grocery store!  I make up my  meal planning calendar and then I sit at my computer, refer the calendar and order two week’s worth of ingredients for the meals.  I schedule the time the next day I want to pick up the groceries and all I have to do is make a quick drive-thru at the grocery store.  I LOVE IT!  Locally, I am only aware of Hy-Vee or some Wal-Marts that offers grocery pick-up.  A lot of the time, I just have my husband drive-thru and grab the groceries on his way home from work and I don’t even have to leave the house.  YES!

Here is my meal plan for January 2018.  I hope it will help you come up with dinner ideas, as well.


First, a few notes:

NOTE 1:  The calendar below will change as the month change.  If you are viewing this post after Janaury, just use the < > buttons to click back to January 2018.

NOTE 2:  Items marked with an (*) asterisk on the calendar below have recipe links you can refer to.  Simply click the item and a recipe link will pop up.

NOTE 3:  For my Instant Pot friends, there are several Instant Pot friendly recipes marked with “(Instant Pot)”.


Here is my meal plan for January 2018.  I hope it will help you come up with dinner ideas, as well.  If this helps you out and you would like me to continue sharing over the coming months, please let me know.  Happy cooking!

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2018 = ALL THE THINGS

Happy new year, everyone!  Looking back on 2017, I feel like I ran a yearlong marathon. (Or at least what I think it would feel like to actually ran a marathon.  Let’s be real, it’s probably what it would feel like if I ran at all, even a mile.)  It wasn’t until I started thinking back on all that occurred for my family and my business over the last year that I realized how crazy it actually was.  As we get older, time seems to pass us by faster and faster each year.  Am I right?  Instead of resolutions, I’ve taken to choosing a word for the upcoming year.  2017 was The Year of Adventure.

I thought I would take a look back at the year that was 2017 for the Baker family and Christy B Photography.  It should explain why it has been so quiet here on the blog; something I hope to change in 2018.


JANUARY

Hubby had shoulder surgery 2 days after Christmas.  The day before his surgery we received a signed contract on our house with a less than 30-day closing date.  That meant hubby was down and out and couldn’t help with any of the packing or move.  Our fun-filled New Year’s Eve was spent beginning the packing up of the last 18 years of our family’s life while hubby recuperated on the couch.

The first three weeks of January were spent packing, meeting with architects and builders to build a new house, attending our daughter’s senior year school events, getting together everything needed for our taxes which had to be done early for our new house loan, and making final fixes to the house before the closing.  Oh, and finding a place to live because the house we were supposed to rent was not yet vacated due to their new house still under endless construction.

Three weeks of January down, the kids and I successfully packed up the entire house, closing was a success and it was time to move; but where? The home we were going to rent still wasn’t vacated.  Thankfully my grandpa goes to Texas for the winter so we moved all of our belongings into storage units and his garage and made ourselves at home in his teeny-tiny house in the country for what we hoped would be just a few weeks.

OUR OLD HOUSE TOUR

PHHS Matwarming Senior Queen Candidate

PHHS Matwarming Senior Queen Candidate


FEBRUARY

We were living out a select few boxes at my grandpa’s house in the boonies waiting for our rental to be ready.  Thankfully, I was able to take much of the month of January off to focus on moving.  But I had to get back to work.  Only problem is the country isn’t the best option for fast, reliable internet.  My days were spent setting up office 20 minutes away at the nearest Starbucks or Panera and my evenings were spent lugging my gear around to various locations because I no longer had the studio in my basement.  We celebrated Valentine’s Day, our son’s 22nd birthday and our 23rd anniversary.

THE YEAR OF ADVENTURE


MARCH

Fast forward four weeks and we were still living ten minutes outside of town in my grandpa’s house as our rental was still occupied.  My grandpa was due back home at the end of the month and we were super antsy at what our living situation would be next.  I continued to make my office at any place with decent wi-fi and photographed last minute spring seniors on location.  Hubby was back to work in a limited capacity.  Our daughter was coming to the finish line of her senior year of high school and our son came back occasionally from college.


APRIL

The crazy continued when the day my grandpa was on his way back home from Texas to reclaim his home we were able to move into our rental.  Thankfully hubby was able to somewhat help with the move that time.

Did I mention that the house we were renting was also listed for sale?  We were renting while it was being shown multiple times a week to potential buyers.  Nerve wracking!  At the same time we were finalizing drawings for building a new house, we were celebrating our daughter’s 18th birthday and I was working like crazy with spring photo sessions while multiple times a day/week we had to leave the house for showings.  As if that wasn’t adventurous enough, I decided it was the perfect time to open up a commercial studio space.  Oh, and get it ready in less than a month to host our daughter’s graduation party.


MAY

The arrival of May brought our daughter’s graduation from high school.  We were frantically painting my new studio space from top to bottom to get it ready for her graduation party.  We also made a trip to Manhattan to move our son into a different house so he would be ready to continue into his masters program at K-State in the fall.  Our architect completed our house plans and we submitted the drawings for final pricing.  We also welcomed a new puppy, Daisy Mae, into our household.

GRADUATION PARTY

DAISY MAE

Kylie - PHHS Class of 2017

Kylie – PHHS Class of 2017


JUNE

I officially opened up a commercial photography studio after having my studio in the basement of our previous home for 9 years.

The month of June brought the unexpected news that final pricing to build our new home came in almost double what the initial estimate was.  We could be house poor or home plans (that we had already paid for) had to change. At the same our rental was still being shown multiple times a day/week as we prayed we wouldn’t have to move again any time soon.

New Studio - 125 Veterans Parkway, Pleasant Hill

New Studio – 125 Veterans Parkway, Pleasant Hill


JULY

The realization hit that building our dream home wasn’t meant to be just yet.  We would rather enjoy life than have a new home that stretched our budget to the max. And we had gotten used to living in the 4,300 square feet our rental allowed us with cabinets that weren’t even full.  (Our new home would have only been 2,700 square feet.)  Where else in town could we find 6 acres with a 4,300 square foot house?  July was the month we put our plans of building new on hold and made an offer on the home we were renting.  It just happened to be the day before the owners received a second offer on the house. It was meant to be.  We became homeowners of a fixer upper three times the size of our previous home.  Here we go again…

I also celebrated 10 years in business for Christy B Photography.

OUR NEW HOME

CHRISTY B PHOTOGRAPHY CELEBRATES 10 YEARS IN BUSINESS


AUGUST

In August we became empty nesters as our son began his 5th year of college and we moved our daughter in for her first year of college. I wouldn’t say things slowed down much, though.  The beginning of the busy fall portrait season took off.  Around the house we started cleaning up the exterior, trimming trees and removing overgrown landscaping around the house.


SEPTEMBER

We attended family weekend at Missouri State University with our daughter. I cooked tons of football inspired food and we hosted a tailgate for all of her friends.

I couldn’t take the dark, paneled family room any longer so we started the first project indoors.  We removed the paneling and trim from the walls, exposed the ceiling beams which also turned out to be stained 1970s dark brown, cut down and planed the fireplace mantel back to it’s natural wood tone.   I forced myself to have a garage sale to clean out things we no longer needed (garage sales are so much work).

Missouri State University Family Weekend

Missouri State University Family Weekend


OCTOBER

October made me another year older.  I was blessed with a crazy busy month of photo sessions while I prepped sets for upcoming holiday photos.  We attended family weekend at K-State with our son.

Kansas State University Family Weekend - It poured down rain the entire time and I didn't get any photos so here are some from last year.

Kansas State University Family Weekend – It poured down rain the entire time and I didn’t get any photos so here are some from last year.


NOVEMBER

The holiday photo season was upon me and 16-hour workdays had taken over my life.  Progress on the family room was put on hold for the holidays so I decorated right over the bare sheetrock walls.  #fixerupperlife

Christmas 2017 in the middle of renovating

Christmas 2017 in the middle of renovating


DECEMBER

Our crazy year was quickly coming to an end.  I wrapped up my busiest year yet at the studio.  So thankful!!  It may have been two weeks before Christmas but I finally had time to complete decorating the house for Christmas.  We hosted Christmas Eve at our house, unfinished sheetrock walls and all.  We pulled off the best Christmas gift ever by surprising my dad with a mini donkey on Christmas morning.  (He has always wanted one.  Mom has always said no.  My sister and I are adults now so we got him one anyway.  ☺) And I successfully made it through the holiday season without getting the sick bug that was going around.  It was a great end to a wonderfully crazy 2017!


My family was truly blessed in 2017.  It really was a “Year of Adventure”.  I have to admit, I’m looking forward to a slightly slower paced 2018.  I found myself so busy last year, there wasn’t much time to breathe and enjoy the little things in life.  That brings me to my words for 2018.

I want to do “All the Things” this year; in my business and in my personal life.  I’m going to focus more on the things I truly enjoy and say no more often to things I don’t enjoy.  This blog, for example.  I want to refocus on using this space to share all of the things I love – photography, cooking, fashion, home decor, remodeling, crafts, organization, etc. on a regular basis.  I do love photography and my business but I also love “all the things” and I need to make more time for more than just 16-hour work days.  My hope for you, too, in 2018 is that you can find time this year to do “all the things” that make you happy.

To follow along with me this year as I share “all the things” be sure to check back here on the blog but also follow Christy B Photography on Instagram and Instagram Stories and thechristyB on Snapchat and hold me accountable as this new year inevitably flies by even faster than the previous.

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HOLIDAY MINI SESSIONS

We have had an overwhelming response for holiday photo shoots this year.  We are currently booked for full photo sessions for the year.  To help accommodate those that are looking for a last minute photo shoot, we are adding a week of mini sessions November 27 – December 1.  Daytime or evening appointments available.

If you’re looking for a quick, hassle-free photo shoot for the holidays, want just a handful of photos to choose from, are looking for easy holiday cards, want to choose your images on the spot at your session or if you prefer digital files to do it all yourself, our holiday minis are perfect for you.  Children, families & pets welcome.

We have four set designs you can choose from:

1.  First we have a simple Christmas tree greenery backdrop.  This set is large enough to accommodate families, pets or larger groups.

2.  If you want to add a little bling to your photos, we have our sparkly silver sequins backdrop and festive disco balls.

3.   For a fun take on Christmas photos, we have our holiday whites bed set that can be paired with cute holiday pajamas or bright colored outfits.

4.   For classy formal photos, we have a gold sequins backdrop.

Along with our special holiday minis, we offer discounted holiday packages.

To schedule your holiday mini photoshoot, contact us at christyBphotography@comcast.net or call 816-935-4961.

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2017 HOLIDAY PET PHOTOS {PLEASANT HILL ANIMAL CLINIC}

Dogs, cats, pigs, birds, guinea pigs, hamsters, family members – come one, come all!

Join us for this year’s holiday pet photos at the Pleasant Hill Animal Clinic on Saturday, November 18th from 8:00am to 12:00am.  No wait when an appointment is scheduled in advance through the Animal Clinic – 816-540-3545 or Christy B – 816-935-4961.  Walk-ins are welcome.  The $25 fee includes a 5×7 print.  Personalized holiday cards, additional prints and products are also available for purchase.

Here is a peek at this year’s set:

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HOLIDAY PHOTOS {LAUREN ALEXANDRA}

It’s time for the 4th annual holiday photos at Lauren Alexandra this Saturday from 11:00am to 4:00pm.  Spend $100 at Lauren Alexandra by Saturday, October 21st and get a 15-minute mini holiday photo session with Christy B Photography.  Can’t make it in to the store before Saturday?  Call the store, purchase a $100 gift card & schedule your time-slot – 816-822-2539.  Limited spots left.  Print and holiday card photo packages start at $75.

 

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THE MOST AMAZING INVENTION EVER

OH! MY! GOSH!  One day I was scrolling through Instagram and saw someone post about trying out a new kitchen gadget.  They were cooking a brisket from start to finish in one hour.  It piqued my interest so I did a little research.  The Instant Pot is basically a new and improved (safer) pressure cooker but even better.  It takes the place of a slow cooker, a rice cooker, a steamer and you can even saute your meat right in the pot before cooking it.  Less dirty dishes!  Holla!

 My birthday happened to be coming up so I told my family I wanted an Instant Pot.  Why would I want an appliance that requires me cook for my birthday, you ask?  I’m a classic “wait until the last minute to decide what’s for dinner” kind of person.  If I can decide at 5:00pm what to fix, throw it in and have it done by 6:30, I’M SOLD!

So, I got the 6 Quart, 7-in-1 Instant Pot for my birthday.  And, I’ve used it pretty much everyday since.  I’ve successfully made barbacoa beef from a 2 pound roast in an hour, homemade applesauce without an ounce of sugar in 10 minutes, a 2 pound brisket in an hour that fell apart when removed from the pot, Chocolate Lava mini cakes in 8 minutes (made them twice because they were so good) and potato soup in 10 minutes – complete with cooking crispy bacon in the pot first, no boiling the potatoes, just throw all the ingredients in the pot, hit the “soup” setting and let it do it’s thing for 10 minutes.  This thing is amazing! 

I’ve shared my love of the Instant Pot on my Snapchat (@thechristyB) and had several people ask me about it or where it can be purchased which is why I wrote this blog post.  If you’re a working parent and struggle with getting dinner on the table after you get home, or are a procrastinator like me, you need this thing in your life, I promise.  In my opinion, it’s pretty reasonably priced.  There are three different size options – 3 quart, 6 quart or 8 quart.  I have the 6 quart.  I would say you can easily cook meals for 4 in the 6 quart.  Though for the most part, I’m cooking for two these days, if I had it to do over again, I would get the 8 quart model.  You can cook things like bread and even cheesecake in the Instant Pot by putting the actual dish in the pot.  The dishes have to be smaller to do this in the 6 quart version.

The Instant Pot is also pretty reasonably priced considering in combines multiple appliances into one.  The small version starts at $69, the medium at $99 and the large at $110 to $130 depending on which options you choose.  Since I’ve gotten mine, I have seen sales for $20 off, so I’m betting you can get some good deals as Christmas gets closer.

If you’re like me and you can’t wait until Christmas to have this baby in your life, I’ve put some purchase links here for you.  Double bonus, they are available on Amazon and you can get one in two days if you have Amazon Prime.  The Instant Pot is also sold at Target.

    

3 Qt.                      /            6 Qt.         /                      8 Qt.

This is not a sponsored post.  I just really love the Instant Pot and wanted to share the love.  If you get one, I hope you like it as much as I do.

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SOFT PRETZELS WITH CHEESE SAUCE

Tell me I’m not the only one that goes in phases when it comes to cooking.  Sometimes I find time to plan an entire month’s worth of dinners at once.  Other times, I have no idea what to fix, no desire to go to the store and can barely find the energy to cook.  I just can’t seem to keep it together on a regular basis.  Coming up with meal ideas is the WORST!

With both kids away at college, I’m in one of my organized phases because I’m looking forward to trying out some of the recipes the kids would never eat.  (Keep in mind, it’s only been three days since they left.  We’ll see how long the organized phase lasts this time.)

It’s also nice not to have to cook a full meal sometimes.  These homemade soft pretzels with cheese sauce were just enough for a light bite for two.  And, they aren’t as hard to make as you would think.

If you would like to give them a try, you can find the recipes here:

MILD CHEESE SAUCE

THE PERFECT SOFT PRETZELS

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