Thursday, December 22, 2011

My No Texting and Driving Experiment

We've all done it. You're in your car, your phone makes a beep, or a ring, or a buzz. You pick it up.You may look at it for a second, just to know what caused the noise, or you may sit and read an entire email. If you've never done this, you either 1. probably don't have a smartphone, 2. are in the minority, or 3. are lying to yourself.

The stories, pictures, and videos of accidents caused by "texting" and driving are horrendous. I place texting in quotations because it's not just the action of sending a text message to a friend. People drive and watch YouTube, catch up on Facebook, read and write emails, or even play games.

I am the first to admit, that I have "texted" and drove. And I have done it a lot. Since Molly arrived, I have tried very hard to ignore the phone while she is in the car, as if only doing it when it's just me in the vehicle makes it ok. As if Molly losing her mom in an accident due to my stupidity and selfishness is ok. As if losing the life of a child, or someone else's mom, dad, grandparent, aunt or uncle is ok because I chose to read an email while behind the wheel.

Judge me all you want, but think, REALLY think about how many times you've even just taken a peek at your phone while behind the wheel in the past month. If you can say zero, you're pretty impressive, but I bet most of you cannot.

Last week I decided to put an end to it. I gave myself a challenge. I needed to go one full week without using my phone in the car. I did allow myself to answer phone calls, (yes, I know there is danger in talking and driving as well), but I was not allowed to check email, voicemail, Facebook, texts, etc.. I purposely left the volume on, as I needed to truly learn how to ignore this thing that consumes my life in so many ways.

The first day was the hardest. Immediately after pulling out of the parking lot at work, I received a text message. I reminded myself that I couldn't look at it. My mind started racing. What could it be? Who was it from? The curiosity was killing me. I actually contemplated pulling into a parking lot just to check, or breaking the rules just this once at the next stoplight to see who could need me. And that's when I realized something scary. These phones..they are an addiction. They are life-consuming. It's like being an alcoholic. You do everything you can to justify that one drink..that one text message. It's pathetic. It's dangerous. It's wrong.

Wanna know what happened over the past week while I ignored my phone in the car? NOTHING. Absolutely nothing. Nobody died. Nobody reamed me out for not responding to their message immediately. Nobody asked if I had dropped my phone in the river. Nobody cared.

By the end of the week, I still twitched ever so slightly when the phone buzzed and I still had to remind myself that I couldn't pick it up just to check and see who got in touch with me. But my eyes stayed on the road, and  I got home knowing it wasn't just sheer luck that caused me to arrive in my driveway without harm to myself, my family, or someone else. Even while at home, I noticed a difference. By the end of the week, I was no longer jumping up out of a play session with my daughter to check my email or respond to a text. My phone spent more time on the counter than it ever has.

Put your phone down. Tune back into your life. Keep your eyes on the road. What would you do, what would you think if someone crashed into you, hurt you, or hurt your family, just because they needed to respond with a smiley face to text message, or couldn't go two more seconds without knowing that some guy they haven't seen in 15 years just watched his kid use the potty for the first time. It's not worth it.

Put your phone down. Put your phone down. Put your phone down. It's really just that simple.

Have a safe and happy holiday weekend.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Learning to Discipline

I remember when Molly was a newborn. People would always tell me "don't worry, it'll get easier." Today I'm looking at those people like they are freaking crazy. Sorry new moms, I hate to break it to you, but it does NOT get easier. Does it get more fun? YES! But easier? No way. Yes, you have a lot of sleepless nights with newborns, and the dreaded "witching hour" every evening. But then they become mobile. At first it's just a roll-over and you need to make sure they aren't on anything high or near something dangerous. Then it's the crawl, and you need to keep your not-so-babyproofed-because-this-snuck-up-on-us house in order and your eyes on them all the time. Then the walking starts and they no longer want to sit or be held in public because, hey mom! I can walk! When they are newborns, man it is EASY. I watched more Grey's Anatomy than I care to admit. Now I've lost 20lbs, run around all day, and hope my kid doesn't stick her finger in a light socket, because I'm sure that like, next week, she'll be tall enough to do it.

My battle right now is with discipline. From day one, I have been very blessed to have a happy child, and she still is one. But she's starting to push it. With her grandparents and at school, she's an angel. Dad gets a bit of attitude, but mom, mom's the clear winner. I get hit. I get my hair pulled. I get my sweet lovable laughing child turned she-devil as she thrashes in my arms and her high chair. Where, I ask you, WHERE did this child come from?

It's not all the time, but often enough that I'm starting to realize a hard, cold fact - my kid is becoming a bit spoiled. Whine a little - do you want a snack? Cry really hard - oh I'll hold you and we'll sing. She's on to me.

Fundamentally, I get discipline. I was a high school teacher and you can't be a high school teacher without understanding the very fine balance between friendship and authoritarianism. I know when it is obvious she's just wailing for attention that I need to ignore her and she will stop. But it is HARD. Today, while she played me a fool while laying her head on my shoulder and patting my back just so I wouldn't put her in the exersaucer, I stood there bawling my eyes out because I am so scared of disappointing her or making her hate me. And yes, I know, this is how kids become spoiled and parents become walked on like a New York City sidewalk.

I try to remind myself that it actually is a good thing when she acts out. She has feelings. She has emotions. She's smart enough to know what's going to force a response for me. She's developing which is exactly what we want her to do. But doing what I need to do is so very hard for me.

So, fellow moms, what tips do you have? Not tips on how to handle the discipline with your child, but how to handle YOURSElF when disciplining. Do you walk into the other room and cry like I do? Do you stare into their eyes as they look at you with hatred and sing your favorite song about the Caribbean and think of margaritas? How do you handle yourself when you know you have to do what's best for your child and hardest for you?

And please, don't tell me it'll get easier. :)

Friday, November 18, 2011

A LOVEly Christmas Treasury

A few months back I said I wanted to share my Etsy treasuries, because 1. I love them, and 2. they can have some really great gifts on them! I haven't had any that I am particularly excited about, but today I put together a Christmas one and it just has me in the holiday spirit already, so I thought I'd share.

I don't care if it's not quite Thanksgiving yet..I'm in the Christmas spirit..are you?

Monday, November 14, 2011

Being Molly's Mom - Her Fall Photoshoot!

They say that when you become a parent, time suddenly moves at warp speed. I'm starting to understand the truth behind this statement. It feels like yesterday when we were at the hospital holding our brand new baby girl. She was so tiny, and perfect, and I will never, ever forget the feeling of having her sleep on my chest those first few nights, or watching my husband be so very comfortable having her in his arms.

A few weeks ago I decided to take Molly out for a little photo shoot..just she and I. I knew it would be my last chance before the snow hit to get her in her adorable fall outfits, so we headed up to the park one chilly afternoon. She was a bit on the serious side, but I was thrilled at how well she did without anyone there to help me rein her in, and it also hit me how quickly the time has flown. My brand new baby girl now walks, talks, plays, laughs, and gives loves. Just when you think your heart can't get any more full, you have a child, and you watch your child grow, and your heart just grows and grows with it. There is nothing in the world like parenthood.

Here's my Molly last fall, on the same weekend, in her monkey Halloween costume:

And here she is, one year later...dare I say, all grown up and ready to conquer the world.

There is nothing better in the world than being a mom.

See more photos from our shoot on my photography blog.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Thankful November

If you spend any time on Facebook at all, you'll see the daily posts this month from your friends, telling you what they are thankful for this November as we approach the Thanksgiving holiday. While I would love to participate in this daily reminder of everything I love, let's be honest, I can barely remember to wear my shoes out of the house instead of my slippers. Life is a bit nuts. So, I'm going to devote one single post to my 30 things that I am giving thanks for this year. If you really feel this should be done on a daily basis, feel free to come back every day and read this post. Otherwise, read it once, smile and laugh, and take a second to think about all you have to be thankful for this year.

This year I give thanks for, in no particular order 
(aside from 1 and 2 which really are a tie):

1. My smart, beautiful, and awe-inspiring daughter, Molly.

2. My incredible and handsome husband, James.

3. My house, which is small and messy, but is home.

4. My photography business. The fact that it exists blows my mind

5. My amazing clients and fans of my photography. I could go on and on and on about all the reasons they are amazing. But, simply put, my business would not exist without them.

6. My blog readers (that's YOU!). Because you let me spout off, you don't give me crap for only posting once and awhile, and I really think you get me. And that's tough to do.

7. My family, extended family, and friends. There are so many new babies, and new adventures going on. I love hearing about everyone's lives and seeing their pictures.

8. My parents and my in-laws, who have saved our butts on numerous occasions over the past year as we dealt with travel, sickness, class, weddings, and life. We both would have been fired by now if it weren't for them!

9. Wine. But I think you knew that was coming.

10. My co-workers in the Admission office. Every day, literally every day, I remember how lucky I am to work with such an amazing group of people. We have our challenges but we are one hell of a team.

11. Coupons. Because I'm cheap, and they make me less poor.

12. My Massholes. You know who you are. You guys make me sane most days.

13. Facebook. I know that's weird. But I think we take for granted what Facebook gives to us...the ability to connect and re-connect with so many people. Plus it makes us feel ridiculously loved on our birthdays or when we have babies.

14. The fact that Molly sleeps through the night. And pretty much everything else that she does. But the sleeping is really freaking high on the list.

15. WPOR 101.9 Because they gave me Kenny Chesney tickets. And because, even though I couldn't go, the look on my husband's face when I told him the reason I was screaming like a 13 year old girl at a Justin Bieber concert was because I won Kenny tickets was seriously priceless.

16.  Our daycare. Sending Molly to daycare was hands down the hardest thing I've ever done in my life. But they are incredible and loving, and she loves the crap out of them. We are so, so lucky to have found them. Now if we could only convince them to keep her after age 2...

17. Flannel sheets. Is there really anything better than the first night you have flannels on your bed each fall?

18. Hampton Inns. The beds, the coffee, the breakfast. If I have to be away from home, I love being at a Hampton!

19. Maine. Yes, Maine. If there is one thing I've learned while being a wedding photographer, it's that we live in one gorgeous state. The ocean, the lakes, the trees, the ponds, the mountains. Man, I'm lucky to live here.

20. Lady Antebellum. I know I talk about them a lot lately. But over this past year, their music has really struck a chord with me (get it? Hahaha). Seriously. Their lyrics about parenthood, marriage, growing up, and life in general just fit my life right now, and when I'm stressed or upset, listening to them gives me hope and makes me smile.

21. Real Maine Weddings. Because they were the first in the wedding business to in some way, publicly recognize me as a wedding professional. The first time I saw one of my pictures on their website I literally cried, and I feel so lucky to have been featured with them a few more times since. They gave me a lot of confidence to keep going and they don't even know it!

22. Amazon. Actually, Amazon Prime. Free two day shipping is awesome. Especially when it's two days before a wedding or bridal shower and you haven't made it to the store and have absolutely no time to do so. Live savers.

23. Green Mountain Blueberry Coffee. Game changer. Add french vanilla creamer and you are floating on air.

24. Grey's Anatomy. How did it seriously take me 7 years to find this show??!! LOVE it!

25. (Man, this is getting hard....) Pioneer Woman. Her posts make me laugh, and her contests make me feisty. One day I will win, really, every one of her 456,000 entries has a chance!

26. My red peacoat. Laugh if you will, but after years of wanting one, I finally treated myself last winter and I'm dying to put it on this year!

27. Pre-pregnancy jeans. Oh what a feeling...

28. Yo Gabba Gabba. Because it saves my sanity several times a week.

29. Banana Republic sales which have kindly re-stocked my post-baby wardrobe.

30. Anything else I may have missed! This is not a cop-out. As a businesswoman I feel that I need to cover all my bases. So if I missed you...consider yourself thanked. :)

Have a great Thanksgiving everyone!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

But I Don't Wanna Be a Frump!

We've all seen them. Those generic Facebook posts that are constantly circling around. "Post this for 10 minutes if you think there should be a cure for cancer." "Re-post if you love your husband." Man, don't I feel like a jerk when I ignore them. For the record, I DO think there should be a cure for cancer, and I really DO love my husband. I don't think a Facebook status update is required for this to be known.

A few times, I've seen one circling around for moms. It goes something like "if you've traded your mascara in for burp cloths, and your heels for pacifier are a real mom."

Um, what?! That's crap. You might as well say to a pregnant lady, "Congratulations! You are about to enter a phase of your life where you will enjoy bedhead and frump every day for the next 18 years."  I don't think so. So, I came up with my own status update.

You can be an awesome and real mom when you:
  1. Have girls nights. Because you really appreciate them.
  2. Wear heels to the grocery store. Because they make you feel pretty.
  3. Put mascara on every day. Because you know that the 30 seconds it takes to put it on does not impact you child's ability to read or become the President.
  4. Watch television. And by television I mean shows like Grey's Anataomy, House, Law and Order, and Glee. Not just Sesame Street, Yo Gabba Gabba, and Dora the Explorer.
  5. Go on dates with your significant other.
  6. Drink wine. Because if moms had to give up wine we'd never make it.
  7. Carry a designer handbag.
  8. Get manicures and pedicures.
  9. Have a career.
  10. Study, craft, play music, create, or do whatever it is that you did before you had kids that made you who you are.
Frump is so out, moms. Show your kids it's ok to be who you are and who you want to be in any phase of your life.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Things Husbands (Don't) Do

My little munchkin is home sick this week. She has her second round of Hand, Foot, and Mouth (evidently this is something that is quite common among kids these days), and can't go to school all week. So I spent yesterday at home with her, and will again today, with grandparents coming to assist the rest of the week.

Last night, as we were getting ready for dinner, my husband picked some old food out of her high chair. I apologized for not getting it earlier, and he said "don't apologize, I totally get it, I've been home alone with her before too and I know what it's like."

Following this comment, I looked around. The house was (almost) spotless. Dinner was made. The baby was cheerful. The dog was passed out. Let's just say, this is vastly different from what I come home to when Dad has been home alone with Molly all day.

I'm not writing this post to complain about my husband. He's a fantastic dad. He helps out as much as he can, and as much as he knows how to. But I often have to remind myself that his brain does not work the same way that mine does. I can simultaneously be feeding the baby, cleaning the kitchen, making dinner, and feeding the dog. My husband can focus on one of those things at a time. It does not make him a bad husband, dad, or housekeeper, it just makes him different.

I know all of my mom readers have gone through this. How many times have you said "Why can't he just help out?" "How does he not SEE the pile of toys in the middle of the floor that he just walked over?"

Give your husband a break. I guarantee he is not out to screw you over, make your life more difficult, or be a lazy bum. I have to remind myself of this a lot. Instead, when I come home to a crazy house when Dad's been home all day, I look at my daughter who spent hours playing with Dad, and sometimes, I actually get a little jealous. Can you imagine being able to just focus on ONE thing? Can you imagine not seeing the dishes, or the dirty windows, or hearing the washing machine beep? I think Dads actually have it pretty great.

Today, try to ignore everything else. Focus on your kid. Forget the dishes. Forget the laundry. Just have some fun. Be Dad for a day..I think you'll like it.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Why I Love Concerts - {Lady Antebellum}

Last year, my brother Robbie and his friend Alex decided to start a company. They had both been involved in the club scene in Orono, Maine and when they moved on, they put their heads together, and came up with Waterfront Concerts in Bangor. Since last summer they have brought huge acts to the city including BB King, Lynryd Skynyrd, Tim McGraw, and this past weekend, Lady Antebellum. Being the very fortunate sister of one of the owners of the company, I got the hook up as my Christmas present and found myself and Jim in the very front row for one of my very favorite bands.

I'm a weird person when it comes to concerts. Most people go, oogle the famous people on stage, sing along, have a good time, and move on. While I do all of that, I always find myself thinking a lot about the true person behind the personality on stage. I think it was watching the movie "Selena" when I was a teacher that did this to me, and then shows like American Idol, which show every day normal people who are burst into super-stardom. It boggles my mind that the person on stage was at one point, just as normal as you and me.

So, maybe this is why, almost a full week after the show, I still think about it. I wonder what the people who were literally three feet away from me that night are doing right now - are they just sitting around shooting the shit? Is Hillary Scott just hanging out in her sweats watching Grey's and hoping that someday she'll meet McDreamy? It's crazy to me that their "normal" could very well be just like my normal. Tomorrow they'll wake up and get ready to work, only they'll face thousands of people in their workday whereas I may just see two or three.

Next time you go to a show, take a second, and think about who really is up there. When they belt out a long note, raise their arms, and then take an extra long look at what is in front of them, imagine being in their shoes. I bet that no matter how long they've been doing this, it still blows their mind that they've made it there every time they are on the stage.

I first fell in love with Lady Antebellum when I saw them open for Kenny Chesney two years ago at Mohegan Sun in Connecticut. I'd heard of them before but they were so amazing live that they became a fast favorite after that show.  Their music speaks to me, and many of them even bring tears to my eyes. I was so excited when I heard they were coming to Bangor.

Here are a few pictures and videos from the night (professional photographer disclaimer: this is with my point-and-shoot, not my nice camera). And yes, Charles Kelly is just as gorgeous as he looks on his album cover. And yes, he looked me in the eye. Twice. Really, I swear, I'd remember :)

I take no responsibility for my husband's hat. He came to a country concert with me, so he felt it only appropriate to buy a hat at a gas station beforehand.

Here's Robbie, looking all busy and important. :) Thanks for the tickets bro!

I hope they come back to Maine soon! Thanks for a great concert Lady A and Waterfront Concerts!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Breaking the Rules - Survival Mode

Before you become a parent, you have a long list of things you'll never do to YOUR kid. You'll never pick them up just because they want you to, or let them watch tv, or give them something they want just because they are whining for it.

Let me tell you, you're in for a wake up call.

About three seconds into parenthood you realize you're a big sucker. Those big eyes, those little lips. You already know you'll do anything just to make them happy. But you tell yourself, you'll stick to your standards, because it's what's best for this little miracle in your arms.

But the reality of parenthood sets in quickly and although it drove me bonkers to hear it when I was pregnant, there really was so much I didn't know until Molly was actually here. And while I still have standards, a parenting style, and parenting beliefs about what will be best for my daughter, I'm learning that nothing is set in stone, and you are literally learning and changing your opinions every single step of the way.

Before we had Molly, my husband and I adamently agreed: No baby in the bed. It would not happen. I'd heard too many stories of couples who had grown apart because they had a kid in their bed many nights. At first we did well. Molly slept in her pack and play and eventually her crib. But then we hit the growth spurts, and we went into what I call "survival mode." When your child has been up literally screaming her head off from 6pm the previous evening until 5:00 the next morning, and the only way she will calm down is when you lay her down between you and your husband in your bed, you do it. You do it because you love your child and don't want her to cry any more, but you also do it because you love your sanity. You're in survival mode.

Sleeping in the bed isn't the only rule I've broken in order to survive parenthood. I swore up and down I would never EVER place my child in front of the tv in order to get some things done. But one day, she was crying, ohhh was she crying, and my husband was running last minute errands, and I had to pack us all up to go away on a trip in just a few hours. So I bit my lip, felt guiltyguiltyguilty, and put Molly in her exersaucer with "Yo Gabba Gabba" on the television. She stopped crying. She started laughing. I packed up three people and a dog for a lengthy trip, and loaded the car in 25 minutes. Survival mode.

Last week Molly discovered the art of a temper tantrum. It was cute at first. She'd sit down, throw her arms and forward on the floor like a hopeless mess, and get over it in about 30 seconds. Tonight, she was in rare form. She needed to eat dinner, I needed to unload groceries, and her face was the color of the very ripe plum in our fridge. So I did what no well-respecting non-mom would do: I whipped out my phone, activated my YouTube app, turned on the beloved Yo Gabba Gabba, and watched my child stare at a screen while she silently ate her cucumbers and spaghetti and I put the groceries away, fed the dog, and made our dinner. It was indeed, survival mode.

So the next time you are at the mall, and you see a mom cave in to her screaming toddler with a treat, or your co-worker or good friend tells you about how their little one watched "Tangled" twice in a row that afternoon, don't judge them. Give them a break. I guarantee they are great parents, who have just found themselves in a moment of truth and chose pick their battles just to survive.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Katelyn's Bachelorette Weekend: Part I

A few weeks ago I traveled to Geneva, New York for my good friend Katelyn's bachelorette party. I still have yet to go through the pictures I took of our 8-vineyard wine tour (yup, you read that correctly), but I did take a quick break from the wedding editing to go through some of the shots I took on our first night there.

If you've never been to the Finger Lakes region of New York, hop in your car, and make the drive. It was completely worth the 9 hour drive (yup, you read that correctly too), for both the scenery and the company.

We spent the first night of the weekend at the Ramada in Geneva. I rode most of the way with my friend Kristen, and to be honest, we weren't expecting much from the Ramada (we both travel a lot for work and have developed a bit of a snotty side when it comes to hotel preference. Not that I need the Ritz, but I don't tend to slum it in my Hampton Inns either).

When we pulled up to the hotel we were greeted with a huge building right on Seneca Lake. A tent was set up out back, probably from a wedding that had happened earlier in the day, live music was playing on the patio, and people were dancing, drinking, and having a blast.

The true beauty of the evening though was the sunset. I don't know the last time I saw one so pretty. The sky reflecting off of the lake made for a gorgeous blue and purple tones in both the water and the sky. It was so hard to put my camera down at all while we walked the pathways behind the hotel. I only hoped I was able to capture the beauty of what was in front of us.

I still have a long way to go when it comes to scenic photography. I'm no Ansel Adams, but I love to take scenic shots. Having a photographer's eye is such a cool way to live..I really think I appreciate what I see around me so much more than I used to.

Anyway, here are some of the photos I took that evening. I'll have many more to share when I can get another little break from the wedding photos to go through the rest. And as always, if you are interested in purchasing any of my photos you can email me directly at


Monday, August 8, 2011

You Are Not a Bad Mom

If you are a mom, my hope is that this post will make you nod your head, smile, and laugh a bit. If you're a mom-to-be, my hope is that you will read this, file it away, and refer to it a few months from now. If you're not a mom, and never plan to be one, file this in your "new parents are nuts" folder and move on.

Mom guilt. It's a phrase I'd heard many times before I had a baby, but I never really understood it until I became a mom (one of the many, many things in this category). It pretty much comes with anything you do for yourself. It's starting to get better at 10.5 months postpartum, but I don't think it ever truly goes away, as becoming a parent instantly means that your life is no longer about you.

I've been thinking of the things that activate my mom guilt, and I thought it might be good to put together a list, not to remind myself of all the things I shouldn't be doing, but rather to remind myself that it is ok to do the things I need to do. We've all heard it a million times - you are a better mom if you take care of yourself. (I personally repeat this mantra in my head as I enjoy a well-deserved glass of pinot grigio after Molly goes to bed. That and "Wine makes it all better." Chant it with me - "I'm a better mom with wine." Wait...)

At any rate, here is my list. Feel free to add along. Heck, feel free to print it out, put it on your fridge, your bedroom mirror, your car dashboard, or your office desk. Whatever you do, remember that it is ok to be who you've always been and be a mom.

  • go to the bathroom, and sit for more than 30 seconds.
  • take a shower, and enjoy the peace and quiet.
  • go to work and make money for my family.
  • send my child to daycare.
  • order take-out instead of cooking.
  • sleep in and let someone else get up with the baby.
  • enjoy a date night.
  • enjoy a girls night...or weekend.
  • make the decision to stop breastfeeding.
  • take a nap.
  • don't cry when I leave my baby's side.
  • give my child some alone time.
  • follow my head instead of my heart when it comes to important decisions.
  • follow my heart instead of my head when it comes to important decisions.
  • put a screaming baby down and take a minute to re-focus.
  • sit and watch tv, read a book, craft, or zone out instead of cleaning the house while the baby naps.
  • continue to do and appreciate the things that made me who I am before I had children.
  • just need a break.
I know there are a zillion more things I could add to this list, but I'm feeling guilty for sitting for so long. Just kidding! (Kind of).  So I ask my mom readers - what would you add?

Thursday, July 21, 2011

What's for Dinner? Mini Meatball Sandwiches

Sidenote: (Can you do a sidenote before you even get started?) I didn't take the picture. Because when you are a photographer, people expect you to take nice pictures, and attempting to take out my nice camera, attach my best lens, find the perfect light, take a few shots, and edit the best ones to get one little picture for this one little blog post was just too much to think about on a night where I'm also making dinner for and on solo-parent duty of a 10 month old. So there.
Photo Credit: Ree Drummond

And, we begin.

These. Are. Awesome. Husband approved, and seriously 10-month old baby approved. They're easy to make, filling, and if you do them right, they're pretty healthy too. Of course, they are from my superhuman internet mentor Ree Drummond, aka The Pioneer Woman. She uses ground beef, I use turkey, either way, these are a really yummy and fun dinner.

Mini Meatball Sandwiches

  • 1 lb ground turkey or beef
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • Ground pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 of 1 whole medium onion, diced
  • 1 large jar marinara or spaghetti sauce
  • 12 dinner rolls
  • 4 slices provolone cheese, cut into wedges

  • In a large mixing bowl, mix together meat, bread crumbs, garlic, salt, pepper, and milk. Knead with your hands. Roll together into heaping tablespoon sized rolls.
  • Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onions and saute for one minute.
  • Add meatballs between the onions and brown both sides.
  • Add the jar of marinara or spaghetti sauce and shake the pan gently to mix in.
  • Cover, and simmer for 20 minutes.
  • Cut dinner rolls in half and put one wedge of provolone the top and bottom of each roll. Add a meatball to the bottom bun and add the top of the roll.
  • Serve immediately, and return for seconds.
Um, YUM!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Being Frugal: My First "Haul"


That's forty dollars and thirty-five cents.

Fourty dollars and thirty-five cents.

I think I've said it a hundred times today. That's how much money I saved on my first real attempt at being a real couponer.

I know there are people on tv who are saving literally thousands of dollars, and so my $40.35 may not seem like that big of a deal, but when you're used to saving a buck, maybe five on a good day, this is huge.

The thing that's always concerned me about couponing is that I felt like the only way to save money was to buy stuff you don't really need or ever use, just because you have a coupon. But what I've learned is that if you watch the sales, cut out every coupon that you *may* possibly use some day, and are flexible about your brands, you can save money on things you'd buy anyway. I'm proud to say that today's "haul" only included things I would have bought at some point anyway, even if the brand was different.

So, here are my goods.

I bought the following items:

-2 boxes of Fiber One Cereal
-4 bottles of Pantene shampoo
-1 bottle of Frank's Red Hot
-1/2lb Thin N Trim Ham
-1lb Land O Lakes American Cheese
-1 Head Romaine Lettuce
-1 Cucumber
-1 Avocado
-3 Tomatoes
-2lbs Green Mountain Coffee
-1 pkg Hannaford Seedless grapes
-1 jar Kraft Mayonaise
-2 pkgs Thin N Trim Chicken Sausage
-1 bag Hannaford Light Wheat Bread
-1 can Geisha Mandarin Oranges
-2 1/2 gallons Turkey Hill Tea
-1 container French's Yellow Mustard
-2 boxes Wheat Thins
-2 Boxes Wheat Thins Stix
-1 container Coffee House Breve Cream Creamer
-1 container Bailey's French Vanilla Creamer
-1 Cantaloupe
-2 boxes Planters Nutrition Bars
-1 package Jello Pudding
-1 package Hannaford Pudding
-1 box Shake and Bake

Total cost for all items before coupons and sales: $116.16
Total paid: $75.81

Again, not the thousands of savings you see on tv, and I didn't walk away only spending $20, but I did walk away spending well under our weekly budget, with products I would have bought anyway,and with a stockpile of goods that I don't have to buy in the weeks to come.

So, laugh if you must, but today, I felt like a rock star. I even sang out loud with my windows down as I drove away from the stores.

So, how'd I do it? I won't lie, it took some time this weekend, and a few weeks of practicing and saving coupons. But there are 2 major things that allowed this to happen. 1. I bought items that were on sale, that I had a coupon for. I never buy Fiber One cereal. But it's not because I have anything against Fiber One, there's just always been cheaper options. Today they were 2/$5 at Hannaford and I had an additional $1/2 coupon. Combine the deal and I got two boxes of brand name cereal for $4. 2. Shaws doubles coupons up to .99. This is huge. Planters Nutrition Bars were on sale at Shaws only for 2/$5. I had 2- .75 coupons which Shaws automatically doubled to $1.50 each. After the sale, the coupons, and the doubling, I got the bars for $1/box. Awesome!

Again, it took some time, some planning, and two separate trips to two different grocery stores, but in the end, I saved what I consider to be some serious bucks, and learned some great tips to do even better next time. Give it a shot..this is actually really fun!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Keeping it Organized - A Simple Fix

Yes, I know I've been absent lately. Let me put the last two and a half weeks together for you with one simple picture:

No, that is not really me. But yes, that is how I've been feeling.

I've been stressed. I love all of the aspects of my life, but sometimes when they all pile up at once, it gets to be a lot. My days start at 5am, and most days I literally don't stop moving until I crawl into bed at 10pm. Here's a sample of a typical weekday for me and Jim:

5:00am -Wake up. Wake the baby, feed the baby her bottle, shower, do hair, get dressed, feed baby breakfast, clean kitchen while baby eats, walk dog, feed dog, feed cat, change baby, pack car, leave house at 7:15. Drop baby off, go to work. Work hard until 4:30. Pick baby up, come home, walk dog, make dinner, eat dinner, feed dog dinner, play for 45 minutes, give baby bottle, tubby time, put baby to bed. Jim studies. Kristina edits/manages photo business. 10:00pm - turn off computer, close text books, brush teeth, crawl into bed, collapse.

Man, that's exhausting just to read.

When life is crazy, things stack up, and you live in a tiny 960 square foot ranch with a husband, baby, 80lb dog, and cat, you have to find ways to keep life together. For me, our lack of space is a real thorn in my side. There is ALWAYS something in my way. And in a small space, you have to have small things. A small kitchen table. Small countertops. Little floor space. Staying on top of the clutter is key, and is something I've really struggled with since Molly came along. There just hasn't been as much time as there used to be.

A few weeks ago we were at Target, and I stumbled upon two small things that have made a huge difference, in both my stress level, and the clutter.

Our house, sadly does not have a mudroom. Instead, you walk directly into the kitchen. Consequently, the mail and all of our junk from the day, goes directly on the table. I picked up this really cute mail sorter, and it has made such a difference. Each day we get the mail, and it immediately is sorted into my pile, and Jim's. We are each responsible for our own slot, and mail is no longer lost in the mix, forgotten about, and best of all, is no longer on the table.

I got a bit crafty and made fun "K" and "J" labels for the slots in each pocket.

The organizer is placed on the wall in the kitchen, just as you walk into the house. This way it's easy to remember to use it, and since we walk by it so often, the things in there are not forgotten.

I also picked up this really fun magnetic organizer for the fridge. It's dry-erase so you can use the slots for whatever you'd like. I always have piles of things on top of the fridge that need to either be filed, or looked at later, so now they go into here. It's an easy way to organize the things that belong downstairs when we don't have time to go downstairs and file them.

This is just a start, but so far, my table has stayed clean, and the top of my fridge isn't overloaded with piles. It's funny how just a tiny change really can make a big difference in stress and time.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Memorial Day, 2011

(For those of you who also follow my professional blog, you can stop rubbing your eyes and checking your address bar..this is posted twice. :) I just had to share these photos!)

I meant to post this earlier today, but the sun was shining, it was a perfect 85 degrees outside, and I was thrilled to be outside with my family to celebrate this Memorial Day.

It still was important to me though, to write this post, and to post it today, even though there are only a mere 2.5 hours left to it. On Saturday, I was in Boston, shooting Laura and Preston's engagement photos. I used to live in Boston, and haven't been downtown in awhile, so I thought I'd go a bit early, feeling lucky for the opportunity to be in the city with my camera.

I stepped out of the parking garage on the Common, and was just about to cross the street into the Public Garden when I looked behind me and gasped, (actually it was more of an "ooooooooooooooh!" Just ask my husband who was on the phone with me at the time. I think I might have actually hung up on him, I was so excited). On the hill of the common were thousands, and I mean thousands of American flags. I simply could not resist.

It was amazing. I learned that they were placed in memory of fallen Massachusetts service members. There were so many, I couldn't stop taking pictures.

I was so amazed by the whole thing that I spent most of my free time just looking at it. It was simply breathtaking. The last shot I took was of this yellow rose, attached to one of the flags towards the front. I wondered who placed it there, and who it was in memory of.

I hope you all enjoyed your Memorial Day. I also hope you took a minute or more to stop, remember, and thank those who have given their lives for our freedom, and also to the service members and their families who are currently serving our country.