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

HOLIDAY MINI SESSIONS {2018}

Each year around August or September, I have the challenge of creating unique holiday set designs for my clients.  (Take a peek at a few previous years’ sets HERE, HERE and HERE.)  We have had some fun sets in the past but I think this year’s might be among my favorites.

There are two set options to choose from this year.  I hope you love them as much as I do.

*NOW BOOKING HOLIDAY MINIS APPOINTMENTS*

NORTH POLE STABLES

Families and kids will have a magical time at North Pole Stables while we capture lifelong holiday memories.  The kids can climb on straw bales, sit on the big, green tractor and sprinkle reindeer feed in hopes of calling Rudolph in from the field.  Families also have the option of using the back side of the barn for simple, classic red barn photos.  Our mini sessions are just long enough to keep little one’s attention while getting an average of 15 to 25 great final images to choose from.


HOLIDAY ARCH

For families that prefer a classic holiday design with a touch of trendy buffalo check.  Add in our various stools and seating for a variety of special holiday photos.


MINI SESSION PRICING


*NOW BOOKING HOLIDAY MINIS APPOINTMENTS*

To schedule a your mini holiday photo session CONTACT CHRISTY B at christyBphotography@comcast.net or 816.935.4961.

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WHAT’S FOR DINNER {OCTOBER MENU PLANNER}

Yes, I’m still following the Keto diet though I would call it more “lazy Keto”.  I haven’t been strictly tracking my macros but all of my meals are Keto friendly and I haven’t cheated.  I’m down 26 pounds total from when I started in March.  Ideally I would like to lose 7 more pounds but am happy with where I am at.  I plan to just keep chugging along and eventually I’ll hit my goal.

Again, this month’s dinner menu is Keto friendly.  For those that are not following the Keto diet, you can simply use the dinner ideas below and create your own regular/lower fat versions.  The items with a * in the meal calendar below include recipe links if you click on it.

I received two new cookbooks for my birthday a few days ago so most of my dinner recipes come from these books this month:

(click image to go to shopping link)

  

Here is what we are having for dinner this month.  Directions on how to use this meal planner calendar below.

A FEW NOTES:

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

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TIPS FOR PAINLESS FAMILY PHOTOS

“The best things in life are the people you love and the memories you make.”

Let’s be honest. Not many family members actually look forward to family photos. Dread and torture are even words I’ve heard used when describing family photos. But it’s important to remind all involved how much the photos will mean over the years to come. Time passes, things change, memories fade but photos never let us forget the way we once were. Preserve the story of your family through professional photos!

Moms, I’m talking to you here. Most all of us want to be at least 10 pounds lighter. The honest truth is if it hasn’t happened in the last 5 years, it’s probably not going to happen any time soon in the future. JUST MAKE THE PHOTO APPOINTMENT, ALREADY! You NEED to be IN photos with your family; if not for yourself, then for your kids and future grandkids.

Dads, dressing nicely & smiling nonstop for 30 minutes for a stranger taking your photos is not necessarily the most fun you can have on a given evening. I get it. But having a happy wife when she displays the photos of her loving family after the photo shoot is worth it, right? Let me help you here…-RIGHT!

As for the kids, no child or teenager is an angel 100% of the time. It’s okay! Kids will be kids. The most important part is that you are capturing their genuine personalities as they are while they grow up.

JUST MAKE THE APPOINTMENT! You won’t regret it. Okay, no more yelling, I promise.

As a professional photographer for the last 11 years, I’ve seen it all. Temper tantrums, bugger pickers, runaway toddlers, frowning teens, grumpy dads, and exasperated moms. Through it all I’ve learned quite a few tips to help make your family photos a painless experience.


DON’T SET YOUR EXPECTATIONS TOO HIGH

Parents have a tendency to want the perfect portrait (which it totally fine) but don’t let the dream of perfection ruin your family photo experience. Not everyone has to be looking at the camera and smiling at the same time. You see genuine love in the interaction with each other, not in the posed, forced-smile photos. Allow yourself to find perfection in the imperfection. The perfectly posed, everyone smiling photos are just a bonus.

BOOK YOU PHOTO SESSION ON A LIGHTLY SCHEDULED DAY

Asking little ones to sit still, smile and behave perfectly after a long, busy day doesn’t usually turn out well. Schedule your photo session on a day when your family can be well rested and prepared. Allow time prior to the session for naps. This applies to anyone in the family, not just the kids.  🙂

MOM, PICK YOUR OUTFIT FIRST

You should feel comfortable and confident in what you wear. The rest of the family’s clothes can be coordinated around your outfit. If you have picky kids or teens, get them involved in choosing their outfits. The will be more willing to cooperate if they are happy with what they are wearing. Dress for the weather. Layers allow for different looks and comfortability.  See more tips on coordinating family photo outfits HERE.

PREPARE TO HAVE FUN

If you or your spouse dreads family photos, your kids will pick up on the vibe. Talk to your kids in advance of the session. Tell them it’s going to be fun. Your photographer should also help make it a fun experience. Kids don’t sit still for long in real life. So we can’t expect them to for family photos. Instead of “sit still and smile” continuously for an hour, have fun. Tell jokes. Laugh. Hug. Play. Tickle. Chase. This is your family. Embrace it. Look at your kids. Enjoy them as they are and they will enjoy the process more. True memories are capturing your family having fun. Remember, attitude is contagious.

SPEND TIME BEFORE YOUR SESSION THINKING ABOUT WHAT MAKES YOUR FAMILY SMILE & LAUGH

Incorporate that into your photo session. If your kids respond to music, have songs ready in a playlist on your phone. It’s a proven fact that music improves your mood. Feel free to dance it out, if that’s your thing. Allow yourself to be silly. It will help your kids relax. Ask who has stinky feet. Tell corny jokes. If there is a time to actually WANT dad to fart, this is it. Farts always bring out the genuine smiles.

FOCUS ON WHAT YOU CAN CONTROL

Allow plenty of time to get ready before your photos. It’s hard for everyone to be patient and positive when rushed. Plan out and try on all outfits ahead of time. Make sure everything is clean, ironed and in one place the day before the session.

BRIBES WORK

There is no shame in the photo shoot bribe game. Promise kids, even teens, something special after the session if all goes well. Bribes work on husbands, too. Suggest dad loosen up and have a beer or two before the session. With a little bribery, even dad can make it through in a good mood. Mom, feel free to enjoy a glass of wine, as well.

MAKE SURE NO ONE IS HANGRY

Everyone should come to the photo session with a full stomach. There is nothing worse than a hangry family during a photo shoot. Heck, make it an extra fun evening and go out for pizza before the session and ice cream after. Be prepared and bring non-messy snacks and water for the little ones since their bellies never stay full for long. You can even incorporate snacks into the session. Bring cupcakes, popcorn or lollipops, get ice cream cones and enjoy them while being photographed.

LET YOUR PHOTOGRAPHER TAKE CONTROL

A seasoned photographer will be able to roll with the flow, take what’s thrown at them and still create magical photos. Consider the advice above and then let the photographer take control. Embrace the short attention spans and grass stains that might happen. Life isn’t perfect and every photo doesn’t need to be, either. Let everyone be themselves and the personalities will shine through in your portraits.


FOR MOMS:  Now I have a few tips for mom to feel her best during family photos. My goal is to get mom out from behind the camera to in front of it with her family.

TRUST YOUR PHOTOGRAPHER

They should be skilled in how to position you in the most flattering ways.

OTHER TIPS TO CONSIDER

*Generally you would angle yourself toward the camera instead of straight on.

*Put your weight on your back leg. This shifts your weight away from the camera.

*Leaving space between your arms and body creates a thinner figure.

*Push your shoulders back and sit up straight but not so much that you look uncomfortable.

*Try not to look down at the camera to avoid a double chin. Think chin out and down toward the camera. Your photographer should shoot straight on or from above, preferably not from an angle below.

*When you apply your make-up for your photos, apply it just a little heavier than usual so it shows up on camera. Don’t skip the lipstick. To avoid shine, use plenty of translucent powder on your face.

*Drink lots of water prior to your session date. Good hydration makes the skin glow.

*If you want to whiten your smile, start treatments about two weeks before your session. Get trays from your dentist or try Crest Whitestrips.

*You’re paying good money for professional photos. Take the time to make yourself feel awesome. Spoil yourself and get your hair blown-out before the session. Treat yourself to a mani/pedi. Even dad could use a good manicure to clean up those hands. Make it a fun date night together the evening before the session.


 I hope these tips encourage you to schedule those family photos sooner rather than later. I don’t think anyone ever regretted capturing their family and having those memories to look back on in the years to come.

I have one final thing to help you prepare for your family session. I’ve created a Photo Session Prep Timeline/Checklist.  CLICK HERE for a printable checklist.

Ready to schedule your family session? I would love to create those memories for you!

CONTACT CHRISTY B PHOTOGRAPHY

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INTRODUCING EMMIE LOU {& DAISY MAE, TOO}

If you follow @christyBphotography on Instagram InstaStories, you saw the new addition to our family this past weekend.  Meet Miss Emmie Lou.

Yes, she is a brown (AKA liver) dalmatian.  There are now two Christy B Photography studio dogs.  She joins the family as Daisy Mae’s little sister and play buddy.

They hit it off and love each other.  They chase each other around the yard, wear each other out and curl up together in the same dog bed under my desk for naps.  Thank goodness because that’s the only time I get any work done.  It really is like having a newborn but they don’t stay little for long.  In a few weeks she won’t fit in my lap anymore.  Just like a newborn, they also grow up too fast.

If you drive by the studio, you may see us out for a quick walk around downtown.  I’m already planning their Halloween costumes for our “Not-So-Haunted” Studio + Halloween Minis and the safe Trick-or-Treat on Halloween.  Be sure to stop by and see us!

We just love her!

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COLLEGE TAILGATING TIPS {IT’S FOOTBALL SEASON}

Every year in the fall we attend family weekend at each of our kids’ colleges.   It’s a fun time to see them in their element at school, tailgate like a college kid again and catch a football game. I’ve learned over the years, if you come with plenty of food, the college kids are all about tailgating with the old folks. With several years of college tailgating under my belt, I’ve learned some tips and tricks for set up, entertaining and quick and easy cleanup. As your families grow older and your seniors head off to college, I thought I would share some tailgating ideas you might want to try when you’re the old folks at the college tailgates.

I start my tailgate planning by searching Pinterest for decorating and food ideas. WARNING: I do tend to get a bit carried away with a theme. It’s fun for me but totally not necessary. I start with school colors and a football theme, find a few tailgate friendly recipes and go from there. See my tailgating Pinterest board HERE.

I’m so mad at myself.  In creating this post I realized that I hardly got any photos of our tailgates; absolutely zero photos of any of our K-State tailgates.  🙁  It was always so crazy getting every out and ready as people started to arrive that apparently I never took photos.  Here is a look at the few memories I could find.

Now on to a few of my favorite tips I’ve learned over the years.

  1. I ask my college student to determine the location we will be tailgating and to invite friends & their families. We bring two 6’ folding tables and two 8’x8’ pop-up tents. There could always be a chance of rain and plenty of room for everyone to huddle under tents is a lifesaver in wet conditions. Don’t forget something to stake/weigh the pop-up tents down in the event of wind. I plan plenty of food options and sometimes other family members attending bring dishes, as well.
  1. For easy cleanup, tossable tablecloths are a must. I purchased a roll of plastic table covering in school colors (SHOP HERE). That way I have plenty to use year after year. You just roll it over the tables, cut with scissors and tape underneath the table to prevent blowing in the wind.
  1. I like to plan/host parties (birthdays, graduation, tailgates) so over the years, I’ve collected cheap clear plastic serving trays in various sizes (SHOP HERE). Bonus, having all the same color/type of trays makes the overall look of the table cohesive. The same goes for serving utensils.  Foil pans (SHOP HERE) are also a good option for tailgates as you can simply toss them during cleanup and not have to worry about transporting them back home.
  1. Flies inevitably gather on tailgate food. Bring a roll of plastic wrap to cover foods and detour flies. The stickier the better so it stays put in the wind.
  1. If you are the crafty type, you can help decorate the table by making football themed containers to hold utensils, condiments, etc. Again, I keep these and use them year after year. If they are football themed, as opposed to school colors, I can use them for both of my kids at different schools.

  1. Now comes the food. I’ve learned that depending on the school, sometimes you don’t know the start time of the football game until a week or two before the actual game. That could mean an early morning tailgate (breakfast foods) or an afternoon tailgate (lunch foods).   Since there are rarely electricity options, planning simple cold food is best. We have a portable grill (SHOP HERE) to warm breakfast sandwiches or hot dogs & hamburgers. Everything else is cold. If you really want to get fancy, you can add a portable battery pack that will run one to two crockpots, as well. This is what we use HERE.

  1. Typically, college kids come prepared with their own drinks. I do like to bring a cooler full of ice and water bottles to offer to everyone to keep them hydrated (if you know what I mean). For fun for the over 21 crowd, I make fall themed Jell-O shots or spiked gummy bears in plastic shot containers (SHOP CONTAINERS HERE) that are always a hit.

  1. Add rock salt in with ice in a cooler.  The salt lowers the temperature of the water and keeps food/beverages colder longer.
  1. We have experienced our share of rainy day tailgates. I’ve learned to keep cheap plastic disposable rain ponchos on hand (SHOP HERE). Bring them for your family or offer extras to those that don’t come prepared. Simple tricks like these make the kids remember your tailgate and look forward to when you come again the next year.

  1. Tailgating spots fill up quickly so it’s not always possible to claim the exact spot you had planned. Make it easy for your crowd to find you by flying a large school flag or helium balloons attached to long strings from your tent.
  1. Add to the fun by supplying entertainment, too. Tailgate games can be purchased or made from scratch and are always a hit. You can even go as simple as providing a Bluetooth speaker and a football. (INSERT GAME IDEAS COLLAGE)
  1. The least fun part of tailgating is the clean up. I like to make it as simple as possible. Bring a large plastic tub to put dirty serving dishes in to transport home. A plastic grocery sack can also be used to wrap up dirty serving utensils. Leftover food items go back into the cooler, or better yet, are left with your college student to eat later. Then just roll up the plastic tablecloths and throw them away. Lysol wipes can be used to wipe down tables before loading back up, if desired.

With the tips above and a simple checklist, you can wow the college kids with a fun tailgate experience and plenty of good food that they have missed since being home.


Here is a comprehensive checklist I’ve created that I use each time I prep and pack for a tailgate.

Click here to print a checklist for future use: Printable Tailgate Checklist

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DECOR + GIFT IDEA {MAPIFUL}

This time around as we remodel our next house, I’m all about finding decor items that are different than my norm.  I’m the same way with gift giving.  I like to think outside of the box and gift something unique instead of taking the easy route with the usual gift card.  Today I’m sharing my newest find that is both a fun decor item and a unique gift idea with Christmas just around the corner.

I stumbled upon Mapiful on Instagram.  (Love them or hate them, those Instagram ads worked this time.)  Choose any city around the world and Mapiful will create a fun print with multiple size, color and display options.  Sentimental and unique; right up my alley.  NOTE:  I did find that larger cities with tons of streets look a little cooler than our tiny town I chose but I still love it.  This post isn’t sponsored.  I just loved my Mapiful print and wanted to share for others that might be interested.


Shopping Sources:

*click image to shop*

    

 

*Items shown in this blog post are affiliate linked.  Should you choose to purchase by clicking on my links, your cost is not effected.  Purchasing through my links simply allows me to earn a small commission.  Please note, I only share items that I love and recommend, not because of the commission I receive from your purchases.  The decision is yours;  whether or not you decide to buy something through my links is completely up to you.  The small commissions I earn allow me to continue trying out products to recommend to you.   

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HOW TO BUILD A SHIPLAP ACCENT WALL {DIY}

My advice:  When you are starting a remodel on an entire home while living in it, begin with one of the easiest rooms first.  A spot where you can quickly put your stamp on it and make it start to feel like home.  For us, that was our son’s bedroom.  A little paint, a fun accent wall build and done.  One room down, a lot more to go.

This is a look at the room before the makeover.  (We started the remodel before I remembered to take photos.) The walls were a tan/mustard/gold color.  With only one window in the room, the darker walls soaked up the little natural light available.

Our son chose the paint colors.  We went with three walls of a lighter blue color and the main wall a shade darker – all still light enough to allow as much light in as possible.

Next we added warm wood tones with a shiplap accent wall.  We used 1″x6″x8′ tongue and groove whitewood boards.

We wanted the wood wall feature to be just wider than the bed and run floor to ceiling.  With our 8′ ceilings we needed (19) 8′ whitewood boards.  To add a little interest to the wall, we opted to go with three different cuts to vary the lengths of the strips.  This diagram will help explain what we did.

The next step was to stain the boards.  We wanted some variation in the colors of the boards.  These are the stains we used.

We laid the cut boards out as we wanted them on the wall.  Then we used a clean cloth to rub on the stain and another dry cloth to wipe off the excess.  We didn’t sand anything and or use anything other than stain to seal the boards.

To install, we noted the wall dimensions in pencil on the wall where we wanted it and found the studs and marked them by drawing straight lines floor to ceiling.  We chose to begin at the top of the wall.  Note: when you finish at the bottom, you might need to strip down the final board to fit properly.  Doing this hides the smaller stripped board behind the bed.

The first board was a solid 7′ piece against the ceiling.  Using a brad nailer and the lines drawn on the wall as a guide, we nailed the first board into the studs.  Then we (as in my son and husband) just continued down the wall picking up the boards as they were laid out on the floor when we stained them.  Not shown is an electrical outlet that we (they) had to cut around, as well.

We opted for a rough, natural look so we didn’t caulk or fill the nail holes.

On a scale of 1 to 10 for difficulty, I would say this project is about a 4 or 5.  The hardest part is trying to keep the boards looking level if the walls and ceiling aren’t square.  We were able to stay fairly level to the naked eye on the way to the bottom and stripped the last piece as needed to meet up with the existing trim.

ROOM SOURCES:

click image to shop

        

         

 

NOTE:  This posts contains affiliate links.

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Amazon Boutique Clothing Finds

Did you know you can shop for boutique clothing on Amazon?  It’s almost too good to be true.  Browse from the comfort of your own home, find prices that are under $30 for a ton of items, have them delivered to your door in two days with Prime and send back what doesn’t work for free.  Amazon is also good for finding dupe items at a fraction of the cost of name brands.

TIP:  If you’re looking for an outfit for an upcoming photoshoot, save time and money by giving Amazon a try.  Order a few things that catch your eye and return what doesn’t work for you.

I wanted to give it a try and see if the quality of the clothes were worth it.  I’ve had a few orders came in and I have to say, I’m pleasantly surprised.  Here is a look at what I’ve tried.

*click images below for shopping links*

            

A few things to keep in mind when you are purchasing clothes on Amazon:

1. A lot of the items come from China and the sizing can be strange.  I recommend reading the reviews to make sure you are ordering the correct size.

2. I try to only purchase things that are Prime eligible.  Otherwise, your order will take several weeks to a month to arrive since it is most likely coming from overseas.

3. I also only purchase items that state they have free returns.  That way if the quality isn’t great or I chose the wrong size, I can simply print out the prepaid postage from my account and ship the items back at no cost.

If you keep those tips in mind, you can find quality items at great prices.

 


 

*Items shown in this blog post are affiliate linked.  Should you choose to purchase by clicking on my links, your cost is not effected.  Purchasing through my links simply allows me to earn a small commission.  Please note, I only share items that I love and recommend, not because of the commission I receive from your purchases.  The decision is yours;  whether or not you decide to buy something through my links is completely up to you.  The small commissions I earn allow me to continue trying out products to recommend to you. 

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