Monday, November 28, 2011

So Thankful

I'm so thankful!
Thankful  for my family, friends and another Gamecock win against Clemson!!
It's kinda hard for me to fathom that this isn't Beckett's first Thanksgiving
and that he was only a few weeks old this time last year.
This year we spent the holiday with Chad's family in Kingstree and then
stayed at his parent's house in Manning.
My little stinker got plenty of attention and had himself a blast!
Oh yeah, and I took a few pictures to document the weekend....
Beckett had a blast playing outside in his Great Aunt Linda's yard.
Acorns everywhere for him to examine and throw.
Not to mention all the cousins to play with.

Campbell really enjoyed playing in the back of Pat's pickup truck

Beckett has such a fondness for dogs....

Only in South Carolina is it warm enough to play in the yard without a shirt on
Thanksgiving Day. 
The boys worked up a sweat picking up acorns, so they took a
break to beg for a ride in the back of the pickup

Just a little drive down the road and back.....had to bring the dog along!

Beckett had no problem taking a snooze on the way to
Doc and Gigi's after lunch.
Worn. OUT!

This is Amy and Pat's beautiful dog, Annie.
Beckett just didn't know what to think of her. 
Her bark is a bit intimidating, even though she's as sweet as can be.

He loved hiding around the island in the kitchen

And running....

....and pointing at everything! 
Once we made it back home:

This is what he does when we yell "touchdown"

It was time for a trim.  Just look at all those curls!

Mama just took a little bit off the ends.  Just enough to get rid of his curly mullet

Mama downloaded this app for her ipad that's so neat.
It's the Charlie Brown Christmas story that's an interactive game. 
Beau and I were talking about how much has changed since we were kids.
Having a cassette tape that read the story to us was 'big time' back in the 80's.
We had such a great weekend.  It's so nice to have a few days off and have a longer weekend
with friends and family! 
I'm so thankful for everything this year!  The holidays are even more fun with a little one around.
We haven't gotten our Christmas tree yet but I got the mantle decorated last night.

I hope everyone had a fantastic holiday! 

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Quick and Easy Pumpkin Bread

Happy Thanksgiving!
I've seen this recipe pinned on Pinterest many, many, many times.
All the recipes required around 2-4 ingredients and seemed
easy enough that even "kitchen illiterate Katie" could make it.
Some used yellow cake mix, some used spice, some add a glaze, some don't....

This is really more like a pumpkin cake, instead of a bread, but
who cares what it's called.  It's friggin' good!
Cream cheese glaze?  Umm, yes please!
For the pumpkin bread:
Mix together one box of spice cake mix
and one can of pumpkin.
(I added a bit of allspice too)
Bake at 350 for about an hour

While the bread was baking I mixed together the glaze:
1 block of softened cream cheese mixed with 1 cup powdered sugar.
After the bread cooled for about an hour, I topped it off with the
cream cheese glaze.

So easy and yuuuuuummy! 

Friday, November 18, 2011

Photography Tips and Tricks

Like I've said before, I'm an AMATEUR photographer. 
I've never taken a class on photography, but I have learned a great deal online.
Today I'm sharing what I've learned from other
blogs, websites and books about photography.
So many of these references repeat the same tips over and over
and those tips have helped improve my pictures tenfold!! 
At the end of this post, I'll share links to some of my favorite sites for
photography tips on exposure and editing.
Whether you have a simple point and shoot or a high dollar dslr, I hope
at least one of these tips that has helped me, helps you get the perfect shot!

Tip 1.  Turn off that Flash!!:  I think that is numero uno the best advice I ever read!  I literally haven't taken a picture with a flash in months.  Natural light is key to getting the best pictures possible.  And no, my dear husband, I'm not talking about "Natty Light." Get outside!!  Open up the drapes, roll up the blinds and let as much light in as possible!!  Obviously, when taking pictures at night or in a dark room, a flash is mandatory. But just look at what a flash will do to your subject!  It'll make his hair stand on end!

Tip 2.  Get down to their level: Don't be afraid to get dirty!!  Some of my favorite shots involve me laying on my stomach on the grass or the floor.  Shoot from their perspective! 

Tip 3. Practice, Practice, Practice!:  That's the great thing about digital!  It's cheap, cheap, cheap, and costs nothing to play around.  Get to know your camera and try out the different settings your camera has to offer.  If your'e thinking about upgrading to a dslr, try to get familiar with the settings on your point and shoot first.  The basic rules of aperture, ISO and shutter speed still apply and if you don't know how to use the settings on your camera, get out that trusty manual!

Tip 4.  Use the internet to your advantage:  There are multitudes of great blogs, sites, online
tutorials, videos, reviews and tips available for all levels of photography.  Go to Pinterest and type
in the search engine "Photography tutorials" and your results are almost endless.  Whether your'e
looking for a tutorial on how to master the art of backlighting in Photoshop or you're just looking
for a quick guide to the basic functions of your camera, you can find them all online.  Study up and
get ready to READ!! 
Tip 5. Start editing your pictures:  If your'e not up to learning all that there is to know about
Photoshop or Photoshop Elements, try out Picnik.  Sometimes with just boosting the levels and
adjusting the lighting a tad, you can make a dramatic change to the photograph.  I'm not getting too
much into depth on this subject though, because I could ramble all day.  I use Photoshop Elements.  
If you're going to take the plunge and work with Photoshop Elements, I highly, HIGHLY recommend
the book Photoshop Elements for Digital Photographers.  It's a fantastic step-by-step guide! 
Here's what a little Photoshopping can do: 

Above is my straight-out-of-the-camera shot
(Often referred to as 'SOOC' on the tutorial blogs)
Below is the product of a little editing:
I boosted his eyes, brightened it up a tad,
rendered some lighting effects and converted it to black and white.

Above is my SOOC shot
Below is the edited version
I just brightened this one up a bit and
warmed up the color
(Eye boost too, of course)

Here's sweet Anna Wallace.
We shot these in low light so most of the photos were a bit underexposed.
Here's Anna Wallace after a little cropping and brightening! 
So much better!
 Tip 7:  Throw out all the rules and just shoot as many pictures as possible: If you've read tons
of material and are so confused about ISOs and shutter speeds that you don't know whether to scratch
your watch or wind your butt, you can do one famous trick that I do:
Set your camera to 'sports' mode and fire away.  Sports mode on a Canon camera allows you to shoot without a flash at continuous shooting pace.  That means you can hold down the shutter and fire off one picture after another.  If your'e taking a bazillion pictures, you're probably going to end up with
quite a few keepers!
Tip 8: Looking to upgrade?: If you are looking to upgrade from a point and shoot to a dslr, I
highly recommend starting with a Canon Rebel.  I upraded to a 60D last spring and I love it, but I
miss my Rebel.  They're affordable, lightweight and take excellent pictures. I also recommend
starting out with the 50 mm 1.8 lens (often referred to as the nifty fifty).  If you have children, this one
is a must for children's photography. 
It's fantasic in low light and if you're looking for a lens that will give you a cool blurry background--this 
is the lens for you!  My 50 mm RARELY comes off of my camera! 

Tip 9.  It takes a village:  Improvise whenever possible.  I had to take Anna Wallace's pictures at
night so natural lighting wasn't a consideration.  The above picture is a 'behind the scenes' shot of
what it took to get the right shot.  She was a little fussy and wanted to be held so Lauren's mom
(draped in a bed sheet so she didn't end up in the picture) held her while Kristen adjusted her pose
and held a lamp with no lamp shade above for extra lighting. 
It's not easy!!! So if you're trying to get the perfect shot of your baby or tot, have someone lend
you a hand! 
Ok, so that's all I have!  
I still have SOOOOO much to learn!
As promised, here are some EXCELLENT resources if your'e ready to learn much, much more,
explained waaaaaay better than I can tell you:
If anyone has any great resources for tips and tricks, send them my way! 

Bower Power Blog  Great tips on children's photoraphy and Photoshop 

Fly Through Our Window   Guest post with fantastic tips on equipment, lighting and camera settings 

Pioneer Woman  If you know Ree Drummond for her cooking abilities and new cooking show....well, now you can add photography to the reasons why you know that name.  She's not only a Pioneer woman,
she's a renaissance woman!  Great blog for step-by-steps in Photoshop.

SLR Camera Simulator  This site speaks for itself.  Want to learn more about your camera functions?  Your'e welcome in advance!   

  Happy Weekend Everyone!! 
Get out that camera and start shooting!! 

Monday, November 14, 2011

Around The House

Mega large picture post. 
To the grandparents, aunts and uncles, "your'e welcome."

This is Beckett's first high chair.
His first feedings were given in the bumbo seat.
Then, before we knew it, his chubby legs would get stuck in it, so we
fed him while he was in his walker.
Now that he's running around like a little wobbly man, the walker just doesn't cut it anymore.
We had to finally upgrade to a high chair.
It's kind of nice not getting nailed in the ankles with the walker while I'm
getting his food ready, and he seems to enjoy sitting up high!

I kept a stash of the party blowers from his birthday last weekend.
He has to have one in his hand at all times.

That's one HAPPY little man!

He had his one year well visit last Thursday.
He weighs 25 pounds and his noggin' is still holding strong at the 99.9 percentile mark.
Dr. C. just didn't think it was possible that his head could grow anymore, but
evidently Baby B's growing a very large brain inside that smart head of his!
We're also trying to get rid of the b-o-t-t-l-e....just saying the word sparks
head turns towards the kitchen.
For some reason, in Beckettland, drinking water from a sippy cup is A-OK.
However, once milk is poured into the cup, it becomes a projectile.
I'll gladly take any advice on this topic...
What's the easiest and best way to make the transition from ba-ba 
to sippy cup?

"Put down the camera, mommy, and  give me more applesauce!"

He adores his stuffed animals.  Espcially the lab puppy.
I have an emotional attachment to this little dog myself. 
On my last trip to NYC, we ran in F.A.O for a bit.
I thought this little lab puppy with the bandana around his neck was so precious.
I bought it with plans to give it to my friends' little girl for her birthday.
The puppy rode home on the plane in my purse.
I just couldn't bear to part with that cute little lab face.
 I put him up in the closet in the room that is now the nursery
in hopes that it would belong to my own child someday.
The little lab pup was the very first thing I ever bought Beckett.
Long before he was even a thought....
Chad and I can say, "Where's pup pup?"
Beckett always knows where to find him.

It's so amazing to watch children learn. 
He got this 'pound a peg' toy for his birthday and he loves
fitting the pegs back into the holes.

Beckett's got another new nickname....
We call him 'Linus'
The puppy is often substituted for a blanket or piece of clothing he
finds around the house....

I think we are finally in need of a little trim.
Not much though, I would hate to see too many of those sweet blonde curls go.
Happy Monday!