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Thursday, March 29, 2012

Seattle Spring Sunset

For the 'I Clicked It Up A Notch' photography challenge, I decided to choose a photo that didn't involve my kids, since they are plastered everywhere around this blog.  To see my Quarterly Top 5 (photos that do involve my boys), click HERE.

This shot was captured about an hour before the sun was going to set, but it was concealed by the clouds.  I love the silhouette effect of the two men and the guitar case, the ducks in the water, the posts, the trees in the distance, everything about it is exactly how I remember that moment.



Click It Up A Notch

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Sleep Like a Baby

                             I entered the Epiphanie Camera Bags Picture It photo contest. http://bit.ly/xN3Pqc

Lance is unlike Nate in a lot of ways, but one that stands out is his ability to fall asleep anywhere.  Nate only slept in his crib unless he was extremely tired, but even then, it usually took a round of crying before he'd fall asleep.  Lance, on the other hand, will fall asleep when I'm not paying attention.  One minute he's playing, the next he's sleeping.  Babbling in his car seat and then out like a log.  Crawling on the floor and then asleep mid-stride.  It has happened more times than I can count.  From what I hear, Ryan was like that as a toddler as well.

The Paper Mama Photo Challenge

Quarterly Top 5


A few of my favorite bloggers are hosting a Quarterly Top 5 Photo Linkup, complete with a giveaway. So of course, I have to join in the fun. 


Since Lance was born, my all-time favorite photos have been of the two boys together.  There is just something so sweet about capturing them learning to play together or just loving on each other.


Nate loves to lay on Lance and give him hugs and kisses.  It's super cute, but I constantly have to monitor and make sure that Nate isn't accidentally hurting his little brother.


Lance has the most gorgeous blue eyes.  When we are outside, I love looking for moments when the sun is shining in just the right way to make those eyes shine.


Nate is getting so big.  He's 2.5 and full of spunk, opinions, and charm.  Before I know it, I'm going to have a 3-year old. 


I love this shot because it documents Nate's all-time favorite activity: throwing rocks into water.  He finds the biggest rock around and heaves it into the water.  Entertainment for Nate is cheap right now.

Click.Pray.Love.

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Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Choosing to Serve

Parenthood.  Motherhood. Wifehood (is that a word?). Sometimes the responsibilities sneak up on us so quickly.  In 2008, I was finishing my bachelor's degree, living on the college's campus, eating mac and cheese, and enjoying that lifestyle.  It was relatively carefree and most of my responsibilities only affected me.  If I failed at accomplishing a task, I was the only one impacted by it.  If I gave a shift away at work and got paid less, no one suffered but myself.  If I decided to wait a day before folding my laundry, it bothered no one.

Fast-forward a few years and my life is drastically different.  Better for sure, but different.  All of my day to day responsibilities, choices, and actions affect not only me, but also my husband and two little boys.  Time spent blogging, tweeting, or reading affects them as well.  Procrastinating on the laundry, putting off dinner prep, being selfish...all of it affects someone else.  It affects the people that are most dear to me.

That kind of pressure can be daunting.  Sometimes overwhelming even.

Parenting requires giving of ourselves 24 hours a day at times.  The hours I have to myself are cherished now more than ever, but I never really understood that until having to be on call most hours of every day.

Last night, all I wanted was to sleep.  When it was time to slip into bed, I was beyond looking forward to it.  Less than an hour into that sleep, Lance needed me.  He's been dealing with some sort of virus that's left him with a sore throat.  Sleeping on his own is harder than ever for him right now.  Last night, just sleeping was difficult.  A 3 am, he was wide awake.

During those night time hours, it's hard not to be selfish.  Getting frustrated is just a natural response, I guess.  As I laid my head down on the couch and tried to snuggle my baby into a position that would make him relax enough to sleep, a verse I haven't thought of in a while popped into my head.

"For you were called to freedom, brothers (or Mothers). Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love, serve one another.  --Galations 5:13


Even though I have been given the freedom to do as I like, to be as selfish as I want, to spend my time how I choose, we are called to use that freedom to serve.  And who better to serve than than my husband and kids? Remembering that verse has given me a renewed purpose today.  I have the freedom to be selfish, but I also have the freedom to serve.  Just because I have children,  I am not forced to serve.  I don't have to change diapers, make meals, clean up messes, give baths, stay awake most of the night, or any of the other responsibilities that accompany parenting.  However, I choose to serve them, the people in my life that matter most.


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and
 then, she {snapped}

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Scavenger Hunt Sunday

The weather in Seattle has been really nice for a few days. High 50's and clear skies...can"t beat that!

Whimsy:
Create:
Dust:


Seed or Sprout:


Swing or Drop:





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Thursday, March 22, 2012

Cauliflower Pizza: Low-Carb Recipe

Pinterest has pretty much changed my life.  

That might be a bit of an exaggeration, but it definitely is my go to website during my free time.  My boards are about photography, parenting tips, clever ideas, hairstyles, color palettes, blog tips, Adobe Illustrator tutorials, Photoshop fun, writing tips, and recipes (just to give you an idea). 

Since having Lance last July, I've been on a mission to drop some *very* unwanted pounds.  I've been pretty successful so far, but I still have more to lose.  Part of my diet has included limiting the amount of carbohydrates that I eat, which means saying no to a lot of my favorite foods.  Pizza is one of those.

Let's face it, a girl can only eat so many salads before wanting to change things up a bit.  While browsing Pinterest, I found a recipe for cauliflower pizza.  I made the recipe, but it didn't quite work out right for me the first time.  Maybe I did something wrong.  Maybe I was just being picky.  But the second time I made it, I changed things up a bit and it worked perfectly.  I've since made it a handful of times and each time I realize that I need less ingredients to enjoy it (which means less calories!).

Here's what you need:
-1 head of Cauliflower
-1 cup of grated cheese (plus an extra handful to use as a topping)
-1 egg + 1 egg yolk
-Any toppings you'd like to use (marinara sauce, bacon, pepperoni, sausage, veggies, cheese, etc)



Directions:

*Preheat your oven to 375 degrees*

1).  Use a cheese grater to "rice" the cauliflower.  This is a relatively quick process, but can get to be a little messy.  It always seems that cauliflower chunks start flying all over the counter and onto the floor.  After you rice the cauliflower, put it into a microwaveable bowl and microwave it for about 6 minutes.  There is enough water in the cauliflower to keep it from burning.

2).  Take 1 cup of the cooked cauliflower and add it to 1 cup of grated cheese (I've used mozzarella, cheddar, and colby-all have worked fine).  Next add in the eggs.

3).  Stir the ingredients together.  Add in any seasonings to taste.  Usually a pinch of salt works fine for me, but I've also experimented with garlic, which is tasty as well.

4).  Spray some cooking spray onto a baking sheet and then plop the mixture onto the center.  Use your fingers to press the mixture into a flat circle.  Mine are usually about 8 or 9 inches in diameter.

5). Pop it into the oven for about ten minutes.

6).  Take it out and add any toppings.  In the past, I've used marinara, cheese, pepperoni, etc.  It is so good! You will totally feel like you are eating a pizza (especially if it's been a while since you've had a slice).  Now, I just add a few toppings to the top and skip the extra cheese and marinara sauce.  I feel that the crust is good enough without all of the extras.  In the picture above, I used some pepperoni and leftover roasted brussel sprouts from our dinner the night before.

7).  Cook it for another 10-15 minutes.  Keep an eye on it and take it out when it looks browned and crispy.

8).  Let it cool and then slice it up and enjoy!

Have you experimented with cauliflower? There are so many ways to use it.  I'd love to hear about any ways you cauliflower as a low-carb substitute.



Monday, March 19, 2012

Comforting

**I guest posted over at Closer to Lucy about photographing your own children. Hop on over there and check it out!**

Comfort.  This morning, Faith posted about how coffee is comforting to her.  It's comforting to me as well. I worked at Starbucks from 2004-2008.  During that time, I worked many early morning shifts, which had me waking up at 3:30 in the morning.  I was doing my undergraduate work then and living on campus.  I'm a bit embarrassed to say how many times I went to bed at midnight or later on nights when I knew I had to be up before the sun rose.

During that time, I developed a love/addiction for caffeine.  Prior to working at Starbucks, I rarely drank coffee.  When I did, it was (what the Starbucks community refers to as) a foo-foo drink.  Mostly sugar, barely any coffee taste, and enough calories to make your blood sugar level increase just by looking at the drink.  

But those early mornings left me drinking lattes, espresso shots, and chai by the bucket-full.  The worst part is that this habit of mine was completely free as long as I was on the clock.  And when I wasn't on the clock, I received a hefty discount.  

It's been 4 years since I've worked there and, although I still love coffee, I no longer drink it as if it's my life-source.  These days, drip coffee with a little half&half and a dash of cinnamon first thing in the morning serves me just fine.  

This coffee mug is my absolute favorite. It's from Dayspring.  I can't tell you how many mornings, over the last 8 months, I have woken up exhausted after nursing Lance all night.  The scripture printed inside the mug is exactly what I need to read.  Even though my physical being may be tired, there is promise of rest for my soul.

How about you? Are you a coffee or tea drinker? How do you take your coffee? Do you find it comforting in the early morning hours?

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Scavenger Hunt Sunday

Vintage:
This train isn't vintage yet, but I hope it's around for a long time.  Nate's great-grandpa hand-made it for him. 

Word or Quote:
Nate absolutely loves when I let him lay in our bed.  If I really want to get him excited, I tell him that he can lay down under the covers and watch a short cartoon.  It's nice that little things can be such a treat to him.

Nature's Own:
 Speaking of little things making Nate happy, he loves to throw rocks into water.  Any large body of water will do. The ocean, a lake, a pool, it doesn't matter. He would do it for hours on end if we let him.  These ducks thought Nate was throwing bread.  I'm sure they were a little disappointed when they realized we didn't have any.

People:
My favorite two little guys...I love that they make each other laugh already. 

Photographer's Choice:
While we're on the subject of things I love, I love that he's learning to sit so well.  Since we've moved into our new place, Lance's mobility has more than doubled.  He's crawling, scooting, sitting, and rolling.  And he does it all in record pace.  If Nate sits down and starts playing, Lance will make his way over to him in just a matter of seconds.  It's pretty impressive.  


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Friday, March 16, 2012

Just one smile, Please!

Lately, I've been on a mission to capture a picture of Nate's face.  Just him.  Smiling.  Looking cute.  

But it's so hard to do.  

He runs.  He looks at my camera and turns around.  Sometimes he is just too busy to stop what he is doing and just smile.  


I can get Lance to look at me. 


Sometimes I'm just a moment too late (he's so fast sometimes). 

But every once is a while, the stars align (or I come up with a really good bribe) and he actually stops long enough just to smile.  As much as I love the candid shots (they really do hold a special place in my heart), I also love his big cheesy grin. 

Thanks for stopping by!


Mrs Stephanie T

Monday, March 12, 2012

Hidden Colors


A few days ago, we found a hidden lake only a few blocks from our new place.  When I say lake, what I really mean is pond, but nevertheless, it's called a lake.  Anyway, there are trails surrounding the water that were perfect for Nate to walk.  He only got distracted, oh, about a hundred times.

I had fun making this color palette.  The more I sampled for colors, the more colors I found that completely surprised me.  At first glance, this photo seems very monochromatic, which it is, but there are also a plethora of colors hidden amongst the browns.


Thursday, March 8, 2012

Early Morning Thoughts

I'm up an hour earlier than I like to be because Lance is wide awake and just wants to play.  He's laying next to me in the play pen, surrounded by his toys, and just as happy as can be.  I know I'll probably be tired later this afternoon because I went to sleep way later than I should have.


Both boys are quickly growing.  Nate, at 2.5 years old, is exerting his desired independence on a daily basis.  Teaching him that he doesn't always get what he wants (when he wants it) can be an exhausting task.  There are tears and time outs.  It's then that the term, "terrible twos," enters my head and I suddenly understand.  It's a tough time, and not only for Mom and Dad, but also for him.  He's being forced to learn what it means to be respectful, kind, and patient.  It's a hard lesson to learn.


But I have no doubt that he'll learn.  Because when he isn't struggling with self-control, he is very patient, very kind, and very respectful.  He tells me "thank you" when I bring him his food.  When I tell him, "I love you so much," he says it back.  He loves on his brother every morning.  And he has a fun, infectious attitude when he's excited, which makes me smile, because, in that way, he is so much like his dad.

So I know that this is just a phase, perhaps a very trying phase, but a phase nonetheless.


  

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

A Challenge: Beautiful Black & White


Lance's eyes are my favorite of his features. Strikingly blue and so reflective of his mood.  When he's happy, his eyes sparkle.  And when he's scared, they get big and round.  When I reach into his crib to pick him up after a nap, they light up.  And when his brother is running circles around him, his eyes follow his every move, obviously yearning to be up and running with him.  It won't be long now until he's on the move too.  And those teeth!  Definitely a stage I want to remember.

Photo Challenge Submission

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Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Fitryo Total Bar

One of the perks of being a blogger is that I get lots of interesting things to review.  I think this post is going to be about one of the more interesting things I've received in my year and a half here.

Let me introduce you to the Fitryo Total Bar.

I'm not going to lie...my husband and I joked about its similarity to the Shake Weight.  But all joking aside, I've used it and can tell you that this bar is no joke.  Basically, you swing the bar back and forth, which causes your muscles to perform 270 rapid-fire reps in under a minute.  Trust me, if you can do each exercise for a minute, you will definitely begin to feel the burn.  You can click HERE and check out some short videos on how to correctly use the bar as well as various exercises that can be performed.

Check out this chart for a comparison of time spent using the Fitryo Total Bar vs. time spent at the gym:

In all honestly, I can't vouch for its effectiveness because I haven't used it long enough.  But when I do use it, I immediately can feel it working.   In the morning, I have woken up with sore muscles.  In my opinion, this tool can be a great addition when pairing it with other types of exercise.

Pros:
-Definitely brings about that "burn" feeling 
-Comes with a case for easy storage and transportation
-Work out and spend less time.  

Cons:
-It's a bit tough to use at first (takes some time to get comfortable with it).

Thanks to Fitryo Bar for providing me with a Total Bar to test and review.

*Although I did receive the product free of charge in exchange for a review, all thoughts and opinions are purely my own. 

Summer Lovin'


Oh how I miss the warmer days of Summer.  Although brief, they were filled with trips to the beach, walks in the park, and awesome photographs.  Our days are still filled with adventures, but, too often, I'm loathing the cold and not enjoying myself.  So here's to Summer! May she come quickly and stay around a bit longer this year.