Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Tips for Beginning Photographers with Miki from Becoming What I Always Was

I am so happy to have Miki from Becoming What I Always Was here to share her beginning photography tips with us today. I love Miki's blog, especially the vase makeover found here. Make sure to check her out and leave some comment love for her on this post! 

Hi all, my name is Miki and I have claimed a small piece of the internet with my bog, Becoming What I Always Was. In August I will celebrate 3 years of marriage with my guitar-playing, DIY-ing, golfer husband, Jared. We don’t have any human children, but we do have two bulldogs that keep us pretty busy. My husband and bulldogs are often inspirations for my blog. I tend to write about relationships, marriage, break-downs and all the other ups and downs in my life.

Recently, I picked up photography again. I used to do some photography in high school, but I learned with a film camera. I'm not sure why I chose film over digital, but it was a cool experience to develop the photos myself. Now that I'm over being a hipster, I decided to try my luck in the digital photography world. I thought I would have an advantage learning with film, but for me, the two are almost night and day. I bought my camera and got serious about photography and staring my own little business, Cheezedogs. I mainly focus on Pet Photography it's a fun niche in the photography world. Along the way I picked up some tips that really helped me.

1. The Camera. No matter where you search there are huge debate on Canon and Nikon cameras. They are the top contenders in the DSLR space. I wasn't sure which one I wanted, so I did a whole lot of research. Here's my opinion. Both brands carry fantastic cameras. I ended up looking closely at the features and choosing which ones would benefit me the most. I ended up choosing Nikon for several reasons. I have family that shoots with Nikon, so we could share lenses. Lenses can be extremely expensive so that was a big bonus. I also use the flip out screen with my Nikon all the time and the comparable Canon camera didn't have that. 

2. Read a book! I went to Barnes and Noble and picked up 2 books that I've read multiple times. The Beginners Guide to Photography, which helped me get a better understanding of lighting, exposure, aperture and all of those terms that are foreign to non-photographers. I also picked up From Snapshots to Great Shots , which helps you transition from a beginner to a more developed photographer. I've read these two books cover to cover multiple times. I think going back, I would buy them on my iPad for convenience of quick reference. I often jump back to these books when I have a question and it would be easier on my iPad then digging them out of my nightstand.

3. Take a Class. I keep a pretty close eye on Groupon and I found a class that was valued at around $200. I ended up only paying $40 for this online photography class. This class was incredibly beneficial, because it gave me assignments. There was 14 hours of lectures, but also tons of assignments, which helped me practice what I was learning. I also was able to see someone else use their camera in the lecture and it helped me understand photography a lot more.

4. Keep your Camera Close!! The best way to learn about photography is to pick up your camera and keep it close! If I put my camera in my studio downstairs, I use it a lot less. If it's on my nightstand then I think about it all the time and pick it up a lot more. Practice, practice, practice! It's that simple.

5. Find other Photographers. There is a great value in having friends that share the same hobby. Even if those friends are only internet friends. I have joined a few photography groups on Facebook, along with connecting with photographers on twitter and instagram. The best part about having a community of people who love what you love is that you can ask for advice on locations, backgrounds, photos, lenses and you'll receive knowledgable feedback.

I hope you enjoyed the post and good luck!

Monday, April 21, 2014

Coconut Pecan Cake with Rachel from Maybe Matilda

Today I am thrilled to introduce Rachel from Maybe Matilda. Her blog is full of beautiful and tasty creations. Some of my favorites include her Monsters Inc. Amigurumi and Hot Fudge Sauce. Check out her blog for more amazing! 
Hi! My name’s Rachel, and I blog at Maybe Matilda about crochet and simple DIY projects, family-friendly recipes, and down-to-earth style. I have an awesome spring recipe to share today . . . a moist and flavorful coconut pecan cake with cream cheese frosting.
Since it starts off with a cake mix, it’s simple and quick to pull together, but the added coconut and pecans and homemade cream cheese frosting really take it to the next level (not to mention my very favorite part—the toasted coconut and pecans piled on top of the frosting!).
Coconut Pecan Cake
slightly adapted from AllRecipes
  • 1 (18.25 ounce) box yellow cake mix
  • 1 (3.5 ounce) box instant vanilla pudding mix
  • 1 1/3 cups 1% milk
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 cups flaked sweetened coconut
  • 1 cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour 2 9-inch round cake pans. Beat cake mix, pudding mix, milk, eggs, and oil in large bowl for 4 minutes. Stir in coconut and pecans and mix. Pour into prepared pans and bake 25-30 minutes or until they test done. Let cool in pans for 15 minutes, then remove to wire rack to cool completely.


  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter, divided
  • 3 cups flaked sweetened coconut
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 6-7 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 (8 ounces each) packages cream cheese
Melt 4 tablespoons butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add coconut and pecans and stir occasionally until coconut is golden brown and toasted. Remove from heat and let cool. 

In a large bowl, cream remaining butter (4 tablespoons) and cream cheese. Add milk, vanilla, and powdered sugar, alternating small amounts of milk and sugar and beating well after each addition.

After toasted coconut/pecan mixture has cooled, add half to frosting and mix (reserve remaining half for topping). To assemble, place one cake on a plate or cake stand and top with frosting. Top with second cake, and spread all over top and sides with remaining frosting. Use the reserved toasted coconut/pecans to sprinkle all over the top and sides of the cake, and press slightly to adhere to frosting.
I hope you’ll swing by and visit me at Maybe Matilda, and follow along by liking me on Facebook and following on Twitter and Pinterest!

Friday, April 18, 2014

Easter Rice Krispie Nests with Kendra from The Things I Love Most

I am so happy to welcome Kendra from The Things I Love the Most to share her Easter Rice Krispie Nests with you today. Check out her blog for some awesome posts on food, and homeschooling! I especially love this post where she breaks down what a day of homeschooling looks like for them.

My name is Kendra and I blog over at The Things I Love Most.  I am a stay at home mom that loves to blog about the things that I love. You will see all sorts of posts on this blog from exercising and fitness to food and budgeting to homeschooling and religion. I have a wonderful husband & five beautiful kids that I love so much!! You can read more from me here or follow me on facebook here!

With Easter coming up I wanted to make a yummy treat for my family party!  I am a lover of all things chocolate, and Cadbury eggs never disappoint. My husband is a big time Rice Krispy fan.   So together we came up with this fun recipe to combine our favorite treats into one!

First off to start you have to have some really cute helpers like this one...

Easter Rice Krispie Nests


  • 1 bag of marshmallows
  • 3 T butter
  • 1/2 Vanilla
  • 1 brick of White Almond Bark {melted}
  • 1 bag Coconut
  • 1 bag of favorite egg shaped candy {Cadbury Mini Eggs, Reese's Eggs or Jelly Beans}
Color 1 bag of coconut with green food coloring by squirting 3-4 squirts of food coloring into it and mixing it with a fork...
Make Rice Krispies as directed on the back of the Marshmallow bag.
1 Bag marshmallows
3 T Butter
1/2 t Vanilla

Melt butter and then add marshmallow, melt for 40 seconds increments until marshmallows are all melted.  Add vanilla.  Pour over Rice Krispies and stir....{with all 3 of your kids helping you!}
Spoon Rice Krispie Treat mixture into muffin tin or mini muffin tin {we did some of each}  Put in freezer for 2-3 minutes to set up and cool off.
Melt White Chocolate Almond Bark in microwave for 30 second intervals until melted.  Drizzle chocolate on top of "nest".
Quickly put on coconut and eggs.  You may need to dip the bottom of the eggs in chocolate to get it to stick on top of the coconut.
I hope you enjoy this yummy treat, and have a wonderful Easter!  

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Smore's Cupcakes and Recovered Lampshades- You're Invited Link Up Party

Another week has come and gone which means that we get to start a new link party! Of course we had fun looking through all of the projects that were linked up last week. Thanks to everyone that participated and we really hope that you will link up again this week! The features for this week were picked by Jonie from Just Between Friends. You're invited header 2 Things have been busy over at my house, but we have been having fun getting ready for Easter. We LOVE bunnies at our house so of course that means that we needed some bunny projects over on the blog. I made a bunny decoration for my mantle, and I also tried my hand at amigurumi for the first time to make my daughter a little bunny. Easter stuff
Now on to the features! I really had fun picking them this week. Click the links below the pictures to be taken to the tutorials for each. Don't these all look amazing?! Link party features 2  
Now on to this week's party! We would love fro you to link up any projects that you have been working on.
You're Invited Invitation & Rules

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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Beautiful Turkish Jewelry with Hande Made It- A giveaway

One of my very favorite things to do in my spare time is peruse Etsy for fantastic handmade gifts and jewelry. I love the unique flair these artists can bring to the table and I love supporting small businesses. One of my favorite recent discoveries is Hande Made It, a jewelry shop, full of bright colors and ethnic pieces. 
 The shop owner, Hande, is from Istanbul, Turkey. While study here in Colorado, Hande discovered ETSY and was able to fulfill a childhood dream of having a handmade shop.

One of the things that sets Hande Made It apart from other ETSY shops is their beautiful Evil Eye pieces. The Evil Eye charm is deeply rooted in Turkish culture and the neon colors found in the shop are Hande's own style. The Evil Eye charms were first created to stare back at the eyes of harm and is meant to protect and bring prosperity to the wearer. All of the colors in the bracelet have certain meanings:

  • Turquoise: warding off evil eye, protection
  • Blue: protection, good fortune, peace, truth
  • Green: life, virtue
  • Yellow: hope, joy, happiness
  • Orange: warmth, energy, balance
  • Red: energy, strength, passion
  • Pink: romance, love, emotional healing
  • Purple: spiritual power
  • Indigo: third eye, balance
  • Black: repelling negativity
  • White: purity, holiness

My absolute favorite piece is the Evil Eye. While the Evil Eye is deeply rooted in Turkish culture, it reminds me of our time living on the border in Texas. We often had people graciously offer to ward off evil for us and wearing this bracelet reminds me of that time. These pieces are bright, colorful and have held up really well to wearing.
Hande has graciously agreed to allow one of you to win some pieces from the shop! Use the rafflecopter below to enter for your chance to win a $20 giftcard!
a Rafflecopter giveaway
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Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Four Easy Steps To Organize Your Photos with Adrian of Adrian's Crazy Life

Today I am thrilled to welcome Adrian from Adrian's Crazy Life to share some of your tips for organizing her photos. Check out her blog for some fantastic posts on organizing, parenting and finances. I personally love this piece about 10 life hacks she has discovered for her life. So leave her some comment love and check out her blog for some more fantastic posts. 

Photo credit
A while back when my husband and sons were off camping, I took advantage of a rare weekend alone to tackle a big project I'd been putting off for a looong time - organizing my zillions of pictures!

Normally, I would advise someone to tackle a project like this in stages, but I know myself and I also know that with a tedious job like this, my best bet is to do it in one large chunk because otherwise I can let a project like this drag out for weeks, or months, or years...

In my house, photos and other personal mementos are probably my largest source of clutter. I'm pretty sentimental and we have lost pretty much all of our older relatives so these items are the only things I have to remember them by.  That makes them especially precious to me, so I am willing to take the time to organize them properly.  

It is a LOT of stuff and it takes up a fair amount of space in my house. However, since it is so important to me, I am willing to forgo other types of clutter to make room for it. 

I keep it all in a large cedar chest and three large Rubbermaid tubs that fit neatly into the closets in several rooms. So, even though it is technically clutter, it is fairly neat and organized clutter.  It is also well-protected from dust, water damage, and bugs.  

So, it's a big, ugly job, but I'm definitely off to a good start. First I got all of our older pictures out of those old-style magnetic albums that were ruining them. That was a heck of a job right there, I'll tell you!  PS:  Dental floss is very helpful for gently peeling pictures off those old magnetic pages.

My best tip is to send them all off for professional scanning. There are lots of companies that do this and it's more affordable than you think.  I've used ScanDigital.com and ScanMyPhotos.com and was happy with both of them.  You never know when a fire or a flood might damage all those irreplaceable paper photos.  I'm also a digital scrapbooker, so I love having access to all these older pictures in digital form.  

Step one - Get rid of of all the negatives and throw away all the paper envelopes that were taking up a lot of room. Yes, I hear you gasp, but I know perfectly well that I'd never go back and go to all the trouble of figuring out negatives to get reprints of anything made from them. Even though the quality isn't perfect - scanned copies are much more useful these days than negatives.  And besides, the last thing I want is MORE paper pictures, so I felt comfortable in decluttering them.

Step two - get rid of the darn duplicates! Lord in heaven, who ever came up with that particular marketing scheme? I had 4 or 5 copies of some pictures - ugh. And don't get me started on all those dozens of little wallet sized school pictures we'd amassed over 25 years of school pictures. While you're at it, get rid of the blurry shots, multiple shots of basically the same scene, and just plain bad photos.  

Step three - sorting the pictures is the biggest job. The first thing you have to do is decide - Do you sort by event, by date, or by who is in the picture?  Some people are real sticklers for sorting things in date order, but that isn't all that relevant for me, so I went with who is in the picture instead.  I settled on a few basic categories:
 - Immediate family
 - Extended family and friends
 - Pets
 - Pictures of "stuff" or places like the zoo
 - Everything else

My husband loves to take pictures of "stuff" - animals at the zoo, fancy cars at car shows, sunsets, flowers, you name it. My policy is that if it doesn't have a picture of my kids in it, I'm not all that interested. But they are his and he loves them, so they can live in their own little section.  

Step four - this is more of a long-term project.  Get them into albums, scrapbooks, frames, etc.  What is the point of keeping all these pictures if you aren't going to do something useful with them?  

So the basic strategy is this:

 - Determine your priorities and set aside some time
 - Choose a storage method that works.  Safe from damage, easy to get to, out of the way of daily life.  
 - Pick an photo organizing scheme that makes sense to you and implement it  
 - Find the treasures and get them out in the open.  Scrapbook, albumize, or create a great photo collage of the memorable, meaningful pictures you love.  

What are your best tips for organizing your photos?  

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Adrian of AdriansCrazyLife.com is the mother of three mostly grown sons.  She is also a decluttering expert who has worked in the financial industry for more than 20 years.  She shares her wisdom on organzing, parenting of teens/tweens, personal finance, and many other topics on her blog AdriansCrazyLife.com.  Stop by to pick up some new ideas. 

Sophie La Girafe and $500 Amazon Giftcard Giveaway!

Welcome to the Sophie la giraffe Board Books Giveaway! Hosted by Thrifty Nifty Mommy & Viva Veltoro and sponsored by DK Publishing!
With more than fifty million sold, Sophie la girafe, the wildly popular toy from France, is a fixture in nurseries all over the world. A favorite among moms, Sophie la girafe is a popular shower gift, and has garnered praise from parents everywhere. Now comes the first ever licensed Sophie la girafe books— the perfect accompaniment to the winsome toy!

Baby Touch and Feel: Sophie la girafe: Sophie’s Busy Day
Babies will love exploring and discovering different textures—from bumpy, scaly, sticky, and shiny—as Sophie la girafe interacts with them on the page, making this a perfect way for encouraging tiny fingers to explore and young minds to develop.
Baby: Sophie la girafe: Colors

Packed with bright, lively pictures, and large, simple text, all the colors of the rainbow come alive in this board book. An ideal gift for new parents, this book will stimulate children’s recognition of objects, as well as encourage talking and naming skills.
Peekaboo! Sophie la girafe: Peekaboo Sophie!
With fun flaps that open to reveal colorful pictures of Sophie la girafe and her friends, Peekaboo! Sophie la girafe: Peekaboo Sophie! invites children to their favorite game of peekaboo with baby-appropriate touch-and-feel elements, and large appealing flaps for little hands to flip.
My First: Sophie la girafe: Let’s Get Counting
In this colorful board book, babies will be introduced to the world of numbers and counting, filled 
with bright, playful images of Sophie and her pals Gabin, Josephine, Kiwi, Lazare, and Margot.
Baby: Sophie la girafe: First Words
Packed with bright, lively illustrations and large, simple text, babies can discover the world around them. An ideal gift for new parents, this book will stimulate children's recognition of objects, as well as encourage talking and naming skills.
Sophie La Girafe: Touch and Feel
Meet Sophie, everybody's favorite French giraffe, and all of her friends — Gabin, Josephine, Kiwi, Lazare, and Margot, in this delightful new board book.
We're giving you the chance to win the complete Sophie la girafe series. 10 winners will be selected to receive a copy of each of the six featured books. One grand prize winner will also receive a $500 Amazon gift card!

This giveaway is open to residents of the US who are 18 years of age or older. Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EDT 4/29/13. Enter using the Giveaway Tools entry form below. Good luck!
Disclosures: Thrifty Nifty Mommy, Viva Veltoro, and the participating blogs are not responsible for prize fulfilment. I have not been compensated for sharing this giveaway. Sophie la girafe: ©Sophie la girafe. Modèle déposé / Design patent
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