Behind the Camera and Dreaming

5 Tips for Capturing the Everyday

So, you’ve all but mastered your DSLR or have amazing iPhone camera skills, but you feel like you can only take the same picture of your kids so many times. Your photos look like this: kids smiling at the park, kids smiling in front of the fire place, kids smiling in front of the front door, on the stoop, etc, etc. OR your very mobile children don’t listen and won’t sit still for any photos, so you haven’t even taken a photo of them in months!

Today we are going to specifically talk about that kid that will never sit still for a photo so you just give up completely. I am going to share five simple tips to help you capture precious memories of your kids, especially those little mobile ones, without the stress of getting the perfect shot, because in my humble opinion, the perfect shot is not that one where your baby is sitting hands crossed saying cheese (although those can be very cute too). It might just include a baby with a cute belly and a diapered bottom

1. Have your camera ready or at least easily accessible. You never know when you might have a minute to capture some great every day shots. Make sure it’s charged, has a memory card, and you have your favorite lens attached. I typically keep my 35mm or my 50mm lens on my camera even if I stick it down in my camera bag. Both of these lenses work great in low light/indoors and the 35mm gives me room to shoot a wider shot in smaller spaces.

2. Get to know your light.
Does your home get the best light in certain rooms in the morning and certain rooms in the afternoon? Pay attention and bring some toys into the light. Take 10 minutes and entice your little one over by that window with the beautiful light with his or her favorite toys. Windows are your natural light best friend. I love a good window shot.

3. Talk to your little one from behind the camera. Don’t just say “EZRA! EZRA! Look at mommy!” Although, I do catch myself doing that occasionally, it probably isn’t the most effective way to get his attention. Make silly faces, sing a silly song, grab a small noisy toy and hold it right above your lens. For children who are a little older you can pick up on favorite colors, songs they know, TV shows or book characters he/she likes.

4. Get on their level and get those detail shots!  Whatever age your child they have a level of where they are most comfortable. Whether it’s your crawling baby, toddling one year old, Lego building four year old sitting on the floor, book worm eight year old propped against all the pillows in the house, or video game loving teen sprawled across the bed. That’s where your camera needs to be. That’s where you’ll find the little details of who your child is in that moment. The little fingers, chubby legs, or the messy hair or bitten lip, those are the little things that I love to see in my photos when I look back. I love their eyes, their smiles, and even frowns just as much, but remembering those sweet little details when you can’t quite conjure them in your mind is so special.

5. Don’t wait for the perfect moment. 

It doesn’t have to be a special occasion; they don’t have to be dressed to the nines. Just capture your family as they are. I promise in 20 years, you won’t even notice that their socks don’t match or they are only wearing a diaper. You’ll think it’s precious! 

So when Huggies Little Movers wanted to work with us again and they asked the question "how are you documenting these exciting moments?", I though yes! They do get it!! Diapers are at the center of babyhood and when babies start moving, it's so important to have a diaper that moves with your baby. It's also important that baby feels comfortable and like himself. Obviously my child is most comfortable in his diaper...

 Visit the Huggie's Facebook page and post your own #SetBabyFree snaps! You might just find a Huggies Little Movers coupon here

Linking up with: My Favourite Post | MeetUp Monday

Ezra's Ballon Themed First Birthday Party

We did it! We celebrated our littlest man's first birthday. I still can't believe it happened, but he has such a great time! Thanks to everyone who came to celebrate with us. We love you and thank you for loving our boy! 

All resources can be found at the bottom of this post.

When I began thinking about what we'd do for Ezra's First Birthday, I knew I'd want to have a home party that we'd host for close family and friends. I mean, just the boys and their cousins make up a house over flowing with children. Another advantage of throwing a party at home is I can take my time decorating and I can do it much bigger than I could if we were out somewhere and you only turn one once, right? So, why not go big!? Actually though, it wasn't all that elaborate once I settled on a Ballon Theme. I mean balloons are pretty uncomplicated and make a big impact visually, especially in person. 

Now, here are all the little details of the party, starting with the invitation. I almost always print my invitations through a professional photography printing site, this time I used Artsy Couture and I was impressed with the quality. I took Ezra's photo on the day he turned 11 Months, knowing I'd use a photo from that session on his Birthday invitation. I like to either buy a editable invite from Etsy or just buy a few graphics and put it together myself, which is what I did this time!  The invitation on the left was on the front, plus our address and RSVP information and on the back, a 5x7 photo for all our invitees to keep as a keepsake! 

Next, I'm going to take you on kind of a mini tour. Starting that front door, favor table. When everyone came in they were greeted by a few balloons out front then in our foyer the favor table, complete with balloons. These cookies were so perfect, I was in love when I opened them! They were delicious too.
Then straight ahead you enter the living room, you see this large window and the fireplace. I haven't done too much yet in our living room as far as decor on the walls since we moved in in April, so I had a pretty blank slate to work with. The ONE banner greeted you immediately and the balloons were flying high above the fireplace. I printed a ton of 4x4 photos of Ezra throughout the year and they were hung across the window and under the mantel. 

Then if you turn your attention slightly to the left you'd see the kitchen table, complete with a little confetti and some veggie trays with dip and cupcake cups I found in my baking stash for loading up your dip. Then as you turn the corner, to your left is the kitchen bar. Where there were these highly sought after grapes on a stick. I thought they went well with the balloon theme and the kids LOVED them. They were all gone, as were a majority of the veggies at the party's end. We also had pulled BBQ chicken or pork sliders on King's Hawaiian rolls (YUM!) 

and for those of you who spotted my dewdrop diffuser in that last photo, we diffused purification and tangerine throughout the afternoon/evening. 

Now, for the feature wall! I am pretty happy with how the balloon wall turned out and I have to admit, it took a while to figure out how we'd get the balloons to stick. I saw a couple of things online that said to use tape, one that said use packing tape, to which mu husband said... so you're going to repaint the wall after the party? Uhhh... yes? Thankfully, I always recruit some help for night before decorating and my mom suggested blue putty and we sent my sister to grab some on her way over. It worked like a charm. In fact, today is seven days later and that balloon wall is still there. We like extend out birthday celebrations a little... 

I made the tassels from tissue paper, the cake, three layers of white cake with butter cream icing, the cake pops were made from a fourth layer and left over icing dipped in white chocolate with sprinkles, and marshmallows dipped in white chocolate with a few blue and gold sprinkles for an extra sweet fix! That giant E though, just puts it over the top for me! I love that thing. It's still floating in the kitchen and I have every intention of figuring out how to get the air out and save it for E's next party! 

The highchair, was a last minute add that I borrowed from a friend. I saw it months ago when I photographed her sweet little man and I cannot thank her enough for letting us borrow it! It really added the special touch that our high chair would not have been able to accomplish. It really made this feel like a FIRST birthday party. The crown was made by my sister Andrea and it was the CUTEST thing. Ezra would not wear it little stinker, but I plan on at some point making him wear it for a photo! He enjoyed himself so much though, and got his feel of of being celebrated!

There are so many more photos of the fun, family, and cake eating that I will share a little later! 

Resources: Invitation: Watercolor Balloon Graphic // Printed invitations Artsy Couture // E Balloon, ONE Ballons, Confetti Balloons and 1 Balloon cake topper were purchased from Oh Shiny Paper Co.  // Favor Balloon Cookies were purchased from Baking in Heels // Felt Fabric Banner on high chair and on favor table were purchase several months ago from The Printed Pallette 

Homemade Ranch Taco Soup #YesYouCAN

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #YesYouCan #CollectiveBias If you don't think you can make a hearty Fall soup at home, think again...YES you definitely CAN!

I am not an amazingly creative cook, but I do like it and one day when I have time to create awesome recipes without holding a baby on one hip, I fully intend to, but that's not my current reality. We rely on meals that can be prepped ahead, cook without too much multi-tasking, or require one pot and 30 minutes or so. Soups, one pot pastas, all-in-one casseroles are our jam this year! Homemade Ranch Taco Soup is one of our go-to dinners in the Fall and Winter. It's so versatile. You can eat it right away after a 5-10 minute prep and 20-30 minute simmer time you are good to go OR you can let it cool and store it in the fridge for the next day's dinner or the freezer for next month's meal. You can also change up the ingredients to basically anything you like. . . you can make it spicy with a kick or just hearty with a savory meatiness that keeps you full through the cold winter nights. This soup is not lacking in the protein that's of sure!

Homemade Ranch Taco Soup:


  • 1.5-2lbs lean ground meat (beef or turkey)
  • 1/2 Yellow Onion (finely chopped)
  • 1 can RO*TEL Original (Mild or Hot to your preference)
  • 2 cans Hunt's Diced Tomatoes
  • 1 can whole kernel corn
  • 1 can Rosarita Kidney Beans
  • 1 can Black Beans
  • 1 can pinto beans
  • 1 Packet Taco Seasoning
  • 1 Packet Ranch Dressing Seasoning
  • 1 can Chicken or Beef Broth

Optional Fresh Ingredients and Garnishes:

  • Celery (chopped)
  • Green Onions (diced)
  • Jalapeno Peppers
  • Black Olives
  • Sour Cream
  • Shredded Cheese
  • Tortilla or Corn Chips


  1. In a large pot, brown lean meat until cook through, drain excess fat (if needed) and return to heat. 
  2. With your burner on medium to low heat begin adding each ingredient, stirring each in as you go, DO NOT strain the water from your cans, just pour them right into your pot. If you are using fresh ingredients, they will need to be added first to give them more time to cook down, you may also want to start at a medium heat.
  3. Allow soup to simmer for at least 20 minutes before eating/putting away to freeze. 
  4. If you are going to refrigerate or freeze your soup right away, let it cool almost completely before putting into the fridge or freezer. 
  5. When ready to eat, garnish with sour cream, shredded cheese, and jalapeno or green onion.
This soup is great with Tortilla chips, Corn chips, or corn bread. 

You did it! You made homemade soup that everyone will love! So, next time you think you don't have time or the know-how to make a hearty dinner, think again because with this simple recipe #YesYouCAN! All ingredients can be found at Walmart for a great price. This soup goes a really long way, so it's also an easy recipe to make for a tailgate party or family gathering that won't break the bank. You can change up the ingredients to your liking, but don't leave out the RO*TEL (Mild, Original, or Hot), the delicious Hunt's Tomatoes, or the Ranch seasoning to give it that something special!

What favorite recipes are you pulling out for Fall? Check out some of my other Fall Recipe Favorites

Happy Birthday Ezra Oliver!

 Today is his big day! I took off work and we are going to have a little fun I hope! I can't believe I've been kissing those sweet cheeks for a whole year now! Motherhood is so hard, but it is SUCH a blessing. This baby boy has taught me so much. I am so thankful that God put him in my life. There's so much more to say, but I have to get ready for a big (probably rainy day).

Happy Birthday Ezra! 

A Year Ago Expecting Baby Brother

On this day one year ago, I left work knowing that on Monday, instead of returning, I'd be checking in to a different hospital just down the street to meet my second precious little boy face to face for the first time. Gosh, I was so ready. I was worried about how big he was, how Jonah would handle it, how I would adjust to having two children, but most of all I was just ready. I was so ready for that pregnancy to be over, yet I wasn't quite focused on the reality that it was happening so soon. 

I remember thinking as we checked in to the hospital on Monday morning that I hadn't really focused on delivering a baby at all and couldn't quite focus my thoughts on it then. I knew it was happening, but maybe with your second child, you are just so busy with the first you don't really have time to focus on anything. It was happening though, everything was changing.

A week or so ago, Jonah and I watched a video of us talking about "baby brudder". Jonah was saying his name and that he was ready for "him to come home." I didn't remember us talking about him coming home and for some reason those words, now, really stick with me. I just think about how we built up his arrival so much and Jonah had no clue really what was happening. He knew we were getting a baby, but his little two year old mind, as smart as he was, didn't really get it. Those words though "coming home" just strike me as so special. They are almost like our lives were always meant to have this other person. Like Ezra was our missing link and we were just waiting for him. Now, Jonah often refers to Ezra as "our baby" and talks openly about how much he loves him. He makes up stories or talks about the future and always includes his brother.

Now I'm tearing up thinking about this, but a year ago, I thought about having a baby, having a newborn, having another son, worrying about splitting my attention, my time, my resources, but I didn't realize the weight of giving my boy a brother.

 Their relationship with each other will be forever independent of my own relationship with them as individuals and even my relationship to them as a pair. Their relationship will grow and change over time and will likely be difficult at some point, but they have taught me so much over the past year and as hard as it is sometimes to manage little ones, there has been so much joy.

Last night, I put on a show for Jonah and I was going to put Ezra to bed, but he just wasn't ready. He was rolling around on the floor in a pile of pillows (wonder where he learned that.. Jonah) and I started to tickle Ezra just a little, when he BURST into laughter over and over again. Jonah kept saying stop tickling him, I can't hear the show, so I would do it again and every time Ezra laughed Jonah would say stop, but each time, his smile got bigger and bigger. We were annoying him, but the laughter brought him joy too.

May the laughter of two brothers always be more joyful than the tv is entertaining. May they always enjoy each other's enjoyment and may they always always be able to stay up late just to laugh at each other laughing.

Linking up with: Share With Me

Seasonal Change.

#SavingSummer ProFlowers

I have always been a big fan of Summer, I love the warm weather months. I love to go the beach, swimming, feeling the hot summer sun on my skin, so I was a little sad when back-to-school rolled around so quickly. I wasn't quite ready for it to be Fall. I needed a little more time for that care-free summer feeling.  Unfortunately, it doesn't work that way though, seasons come and then they are gone again. Time just marches on.

The summer, this year, feels like it went so quickly. Don't you think? Maybe it's the rush and the business of having two kids now. We hardly had time to do all we wanted. I think now looking back it was just a hard summer to go and do. It was SO hot and with Ezra being so little, it was hard to get out and do the things we love because it was SO hot. Did I already say that?

 I have mixed feelings though,  heading into Fall, there's so much to celebrate and I love holiday season, but it just means that winter is that much closer and I despise winter. The gloom, the darkness, it is just not good for my soul. I try to stay positive and enjoy the moment, but by February I'm done. Give me warmth!

You know what's awesome though? We get to plan and look forward because every day the sun rises and sets. That will never change. Next summer, I want to go more... to parks, events, swimming, just riding out of town for the day. We don't do nearly enough exploring. I think our beach trip this summer left us a little jaded after Ezra cried nearly the whole way home, but next year.. next year he'll be old enough for Mickey Mouse on an iPad and interaction with his brother while we are riding. Next year, he'll be old enough that we can stop at rest stops to let him run around and get some of that energy out. Next year, we'll go more, see more, and just be more... I hope.

Speaking of just being more. I also want to have our friends and family over more. That's one of my goals for this Fall. Invite people to eat with us, play with us, and just hang out with us. So, let's just hold on to our summer a little longer and experience the things we didn't quite get out of our system. Let's enjoy the outdoors, each other's company, and explore where we are.

The beautiful Flowers found in this post are c/o ProFlowers, where you can still find these inspirational Summer Blooms and grab a coupon here. #SavingSummer
Tell us in the comments what you didn't get to check off your Summer bucket list

Linking up with: Share With Me

The World's Best Pimento Cheese

I grew up on Pimento Cheese Sandwiches. Mostly made with store bought Pimento Cheese. Mrs. Weavers, Mrs. Stratton's, I can never remember which one was my favorite, but I liked it on plain bread. Nothing fancy. I guess I knew people made it at home, but it wasn't until I was an adult that I actually considered that I could make and eat homemade pimento cheese. Like I thought it was something really complicated? Then it started appearing in restaurants. Uptown Grocery in Natchez, MS has the best Pimento Cheese sandwich I have ever tasted (until this one). Newk's does a pretty darn good job too and since I eat there more often I found it easier to snag their recipe. Now, I don't know it exactly, although I did see a news channel video of someone from Newk's making it. The recipe you'll find below is a little variation of what I think their recipe is, but if you like Newk's, you'll love this.

If you are going to the store today, you'll want to pick up these ingredients. . . It's back to school time, football season, after school this and that season and sometimes you just need to eat a sandwich for dinner and lunch and maybe breakfast too because the other night I put bacon on my pimento cheese sandwich and it was a successful experience. I truly do like it best with just plain bread or made like a grilled cheese. so. good.

Ok here's what you'll need.


  • 1 block (8 ounce) sharp Cheddar Cheese, shredded
  • 1 block (8 ounce) sharp White Cheddar Cheese, shredded
  • 1 cup mayonnaise (or 1/2 cup mayonnaise 1/2 cup cream cheese if you're feeling crazy)
  • 1 jar diced pimentos, drained
  • 1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp onion powder (I used a 1/2 tsp of dried minced onion)
  • 1 tsp Tony's Original (red pepper or paprika can be used here also)
Now just for fun and because I obviously like to photograph food in bowls, here's your step by step visual instructions. Otherwise known as, put it all in a bowl and stir it with a spoon. 


Some of my favorite ways to eat Pimento Cheese are with a slice of tomato on two slices of bread, prepared like a classic grilled cheese on the stove top, on celery sticks, melted and eaten like a dip with tortilla chips! 

What's you favorite way to enjoy pimento cheese? Please tell me in the comments so I can try it! 

You're going to want to pin this for now and for later. Trust me, go ahead. There's a little button in the corner. 

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