Friday, July 25, 2014

Harry Potter Baby Pictures Ideas

When I met Marissa from Rae Gun Ramblings a couple of years ago and we bonded over our love of Young Adult Literature, Crafting and all things Harry Potter. I mean, anybody who has a Moaning Myrtle picture in her bathroom has to be pretty awesome, right? 

Ever since she told me she was pregnant, I knew there had to be a Harry Potter baby photo shoot in this little boy's future. This shoot is absolutely one of my favorites I have ever taken and I can't wait to share it with you. In this post I will share where I got all of the props and we posed this little man to capture these photographs. 
 Teddy is about five months old in these photos and not sitting up yet, so all of these photos are set up to be safe for an uneasy sitter. Teddy is already Harry Potter lucky because his mom sells the cute outfit he is wearing in her Rae Gun Shop. You can find his outfit here. The glasses are apart of this costume set found here. The Scarf, Wand and Hogwarts Letter come from the Pieces By Polly Etsy Shop found here. I couldn't find the exact suitcase set I used in these pictures but this set here would work too.
 For this photo, we wanted Teddy to sit up so we could get a better glimpse of the glasses and scarf. The easiest way to do this was to put a pillow in the corner of the room, drape the backdrop over top of it and prop him up, with the security of his mom only a step away.
 This is absolutely one of my favorite picture. He is just so excited that he finally got his Hogwarts Letter.
 These next few pictures are perfect for people who might not want to spend a lot of money on props. You just need a copy of the books for these ones. The above picture is perfect if you have a sleepy baby but want to take a few more picture. Swaddle them in a white blanket and when they are asleep lay them down with the props.
For this picture, the books are not stacked in order, but set to make more even piles. After a couple of times of trial and error, we found that the second book, Chamber of Secrets, was the perfect height for the baby to lay on.
 The picture below is one of my favorites. For safety reasons, it is a composite image, or an image that is made up of two images. There are a few steps you can take when shooting to make putting together a composite image a snap. Have your parent hold the baby securely with a hand. Take pictures until you have one you love, then have the parent move their hand to a completely different spot and take a few more pictures. This way you will have two picture that combine easily for a cute, and parent free picture. The cute bird cage in the photo was purchased at Tai Pan Trading, which doesn't have an online store, but you can find a similar one here.

For more of my pictures you can check out Joyous Moments Photography and my Joyous Moments Photography Facebook Page. Do you love the images from this photo shoot and want to take some of your own? One lucky reader will win the makings of a fabulous Harry Potter Photo Shoot including: 
  • One Rae Gun Harry Potter outfit. Your choice size, Hogwarts house colors and style. Either the Harry Potter girly swing top set or the Hogwarts Tie onesie set (this can be done with or without ruffles on the bum)
  • One 3 Piece Gift Set from Pieces by Polly. This includes one Wand, a Scarf to the Hogwarts house of choice, one personalized Hogwarts Acceptance Letter, School Packing List, and Hogwarts Express Ticket
  • Make Love Not Horcruxes bag to carry all your photoprops (or favorite books) to your photo shoot!
Enter using the Rafflecopter below. 
 a Rafflecopter giveaway
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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Book Review: Dangerous Creatures

What would you bet if you knew you couldn't lose? Ridley is so sure of her persuasion powers that she posses as a Dark Caster Siren, that she puts it all on the table in a game of cards. A game that she loses, now she owes someone even more powerful than herself anything he wants.

We are back in Gaitlin for the newest Beautiful Creatures book, but this time instead of following Lena and Ethan around, we are following Ridley and Link on Link's journey to become a musician in the Big Apple. Ridley has found Link a band, but what she doesn't tell him is that she using him to pay her gambling debts.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. Ridley was my absolute favorite part of the Beautiful Creatures series, so I was thrilled to see a spin-off starring her. I loved getting in her head, even with hearing her insecurities and such, I felt her character stayed really true to what she was in the first series. Link was his fun, odd ball self. My only character problems came with one of the other main characters who seemed to flip his entire personality, and stance on life for no reason at all.

I felt like the pacing on this book was a little off. It took forever to get into and then the last thirty percent of the book absolutely flew by. Even though the middle was a little slow it was a fun read, that anybody who liked the Beautiful Creatures series would enjoy, especially if there was a small part of you who was always cheering for Ridley in you head.
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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The Best New York Street Food You Can Make At Home- Halal Guys Copycat

Last year, I went to New York City for a week with my husband and my mom. It was an amazing trip — what can I say, I love New York!

Even though we saw a ton of cool things, we were a little bummed by most the food we tried. We love to eat out and knew New York was a food paradise, but we must have chosen the wrong places. But there was one place that stood out above the rest and was the best food we had while we were there. No, it wasn't a fancy restaurant, it was from a food cart.

At 11, one night, my husband and I were starving after a day of running around the city. We stepped out of our hotel, the Midtown Hilton, and saw a couple food carts across the street. The lines were pretty long, even that late at night, so we figured they had to be good. We chose one of the carts and ended up getting a chicken and rice plate for about $6. There was so much food on the plate that both of us ate and couldn't finish. And it was amazing!

After we came home from the trip we both craved it. We read up about the cart and learned it's actually quite a popular food cart. Was it just coincidence we ate at the best food cart in the city? I don't know, but I knew we had to make it ourselves.

So we did.

Even if you've never had street cart food before, you've got to give this a try!


Chicken Marinade:

  • 2 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp. chopped fresh oregano
  • 1/2 tsp. ground coriander
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 Cup olive oil
  • Salt and ground black pepper
  • 2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed (6 to 8 thighs)
  • 1 Tbsp. vegetable oil


  • 2 Tbsp. butter
  • 1/4 tsp. cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. turmeric
  • 1 1/2 Cups long-grain rice
  • 2 1/2 Cups chicken broth
  • Salt and pepper

Sauce Prep:

  • 1/4 Cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 Cup sour cream
  • 1 Tbsp. sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. vinegar
  • 1 tsp. lemon juice
  • 1/4 Cup chopped, fresh parsley
  • Salt and pepper to taste


Chicken Prep: Place the lemon juice, olive oil, oregano, coriander and garlic in a blender and blend until smooth. Put half the marinade and chicken in a gallon bag and refrigerate. Spread the marinade well to make sure the chicken is coated. Refrigerate for 1 to 4 hours.

Remove the chicken and pat dry. Sprinkle with salt and pepper (don't skimp on the pepper!). Heat oil in an electric skillet at medium-high heat. Cook the chicken for 4 minutes. Flip the chicken, and reduce the heat to medium and cook until the chicken is cooked through (about 6 minutes). Remove chicken from heat and allow to cool for 5 minutes for juices to redistribute.

Chop the chicken into 1/4-inch chunks and place in a large bowl. Add the other half of the marinade that you didn't use to marinate the chicken originally.

Rice Prep: Melt the butter in a large pan. Add the cumin and turmeric and cook about 1 minute. Add the rice and stir until rice is coated a nice yellow color. Lightly toasted the rice, stirring occasionally. Add the chicken broth and salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil. Cover the rice and reduce to a simmer. Cook for about 15 minutes without disturbing. Remove from heat and let the rice absorb the rest of the liquid until tender, which takes about 15 minutes.

Sauce Prep: Combine the sour cream, mayo, sugar, vinegar, lemon juice, parsley, and 2 teaspoons black pepper. Whisk together well. Season to taste with salt.

Serve: Place the chicken and the marinade back in the heated electric skillet and cook over medium-high heat until heated through.

Serve by placing a bed of rice on a plate and top with the chicken. Serve with chopped lettuce, diced tomato, and toasted pita bread. The sauce is on the side (or on top if you love that much sauce, but be careful because it's kind of tangy). Hot sauce is also good with it.

This dish takes a bit of preparation, but it's super yummy. The pita bread is amazing with this. Use it to scoop up the rice and chicken instead of a spoon.
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Monday, July 21, 2014

Easy Custom Pinboards for Doctor Who Fans

Hi again! Lorene here, the blogger formerly known as just Lu. (The blog is still there, but the blogger isn't as often :)) If you've been reading Housewife Eclectic for many moons, you might remember me from my Wednesdays on the Web posts back in the day. But this time, I'm here to share some fun projects with you to give Debra a little break and some time to snuggle that sweet baby girl!

Up today: super easy, customizable pinboards. Yup, real-life pinboards, not the Pinterest kind. Make them for whoever -- I highly recommend your favorite Whovian :)

How to Make Custom Mini Pinboards

  • cork tiles -- I used coasters that had a decorative paper on the back, or you can pick up cork trivets, tiles, or sheets of cork at most craft/home stores or on Amazon 
  • vinyl -- I used glossy outdoor vinyl since the adhesive is stronger 
  • electronic cutting machine (optional) 
These are so easy and customizable! Just cut the designs you want out of the vinyl and stick it on! If you don’t have a cutting machine, you can cut simple shapes by hand easily with an x-acto knife. I used glossy outdoor vinyl since it has a stronger adhesive, but any kind of vinyl, or even contact paper, should work.

I used some of my favorite Doctor Who designs and sayings, traced in Silhouette Studio. I also customized some simple white thumbtacks with teeny tiny Cybermen, Adipose, Daleks and of course, a TARDIS! When you’re looking for images that you want to hand cut or trace digitally, try searching for coloring pages and stencils -- they’re generally simpler and easy to trace.

Have fun and I'd love to see what you create!

Go and be awesome,

Lu (or Lorene if you prefer) is the mom of 3 kids and wife of a singing and dancing elementary teacher. She happily shows up here at Housewife Eclectic whenever Debra allows, and occasionally blogs on whatever topic comes up over at her blog, just Lu, when she has time in between projects and her awesome job as a virtual assistant. 

Friday, July 18, 2014

12 Summer Cupcakes

Nothing says summer like a fun cupcake. Here are 12 fabulous summer cupcakes to make this summer! 
Crawling Crab Cupcakes by Celebrations.
Bonfire Cupcakes by Crissy's Crafts.
 Octopus Cupcakes from Parents.
 Teddy at the Beach Cupcakes by Betty Crocker.
Beach Cupcakes from A Pumpkin and A Princess.
Day At The Beach Cupcakes by The Decorated Cookie.
Corn on the Cob Cupcakes by Hostess with the Mostess.
Burgers and Hot Dog Cupcakes by Spoonful.
Lemonade Cupcakes from The Celebration Shoppe.
 Raspberry Lemonade Cupcakes from Six Sisters' Stuff.
Shark Cupcakes from Martha Stewart.
Snow Cone Cupcakes by Celebrations.

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Thursday, July 17, 2014

7 Tips for a Summer Trip The Kids Will Always Remember

It's summer and with the warmer weather, surely the kids will want to get outdoors and play, right? Wrong. Left to their own devices, kids these days will waste away and entire summer playing on a mobile device or watching endless episodes on Netflix.

I don't know about you, but when I think back on my summers growing up, they're full of adventure and family time. Don't get me wrong, these aren't necessarily all happy memories (though most are), but they are definitely memorable and contributed to who I am today.

RVing is one of the best ways to get kids to unplug, because, let's face it, they are away from all of the devices. Sure, it can be work, but it's well worth it and you never know what type of adventures you'll have.
But camping is more than just selecting a camp site and traveling in an RV. It's what you do that makes the RVing experience something the kids will remember and treasure. With that in mind, here are 7 activities to do with your family while RVing to promote a closer family.

Cook Together

It's amazing how many kids leave home for college or career and don't even know how to prepare a box of macaroni and cheese. For something as essential to life as eating, if kids don't know how to cook they can develop unhealthy eating habits. RVing is a great time to teach kids basic cooking principles. In particular, teach kids how to properly prepare different types of foods, food safety tips and how to get creative when you're missing an ingredient (which inevitably seems to happen when you're camping). Often, camping meals are simple enough for kids and teens to lend a hand and learn a quick fix.

Play Games

It sounds so simple, but it's so easy to forget the power of game night. Playing games together promotes family unity and teaches children how to handle winning and losing. It also provides time to talk and keeps their mind off the Facebook posts and texts they're missing while they're away from it all. Great RVing games include card games like golf, Egyptian ratscrew and Phase 10.

Share Stories

Too often, we assume our lives are mundane and our kids don't want to hear stories about when we were younger. But wouldn't you like to know more about what your parents were like at your age? Skip the "I walked 12 miles uphill in the snow both ways" talks – they've already got those memorized – and tell stories of your youth. What did you love to do as a kid? What type of trouble did you get into? What did you learn from it? What would you do differently? And, if you're going to share, be open to listening to stories your children want to share with you. A listening ear is something kids will always remember.

Explore Nature

Your kids can probably tell you the name of every pop music icon, but what about the names of flower, trees or animals? There's so much to explore in nature. Kids are used to the idea of exploring (at least in the digital world). Teach them how to safely explore the real world and share the excitement of discovering simple things like caves, interesting rock formations, beehives and footprints. Bringing a camera along to document the experience can help them share what they find later when they get back to their digital world.

Teach conservation values and respect for nature

You don't have to be an environmentalist to know the value of preserving the great outdoors. Take the time to teach your children the value of no trace camping (leaving a campsite as good or better than you found it), and to value both plant and animal life. That respect for nature will pay dividends in other areas of their lives.

Teach a Skill

Camping is a perfect time to teach a new skill. Do crafts together. Teach kids how to whittle, tie knots, light a fire, dig a latrine, cut firewood or a number of other skills. Even though most of these skills have no practical application in day to day city living, there is value in establishing work ethic and in the process of how to gain and develop a skill. Once you gain one skills, it's easier to gain others, and many skills are transferrable.

Reinforce science (astronomy, rock cycle, water cycle, etc)

Finally, just because it's summer doesn't mean kids can check out from schooling and forget everything they learned. RVing is a great opportunity to teach or reinforce many things kids learn in school, particularly science. Stay up late and look at the stars to learn more about astronomy. See the rock cycle or water cycle all around you. Talk about ecosystems work and how each plant and animal plays a key role in an ecosystem.

This may be well and good, but if you're like me, tent camping can still be, well, uncomfortable. If you feel the same way, RV camping may be the way to go. It provides many modern luxuries like a kitchen, bathroom, beds and electricity so you can rough it without getting roughed up. RV camping isn't just for mom either. It's great for families with little kids, or if you want to bring grandma and grandpa along. My mom's health isn't great and so taking an RV is the perfect way to be able to bring grandma without worrying.
However you Go RVing, be sure to make it a family experience your kids will cherish. What's your favorite camping memory?

Tell us what you love most about RVing or if you've ever wanted to try it!

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Go RVing via Burst Media. The opinions and text are all mine.

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Monday, July 14, 2014

Homemade Mini Powdered Donuts

In my husband's family, the donut is sacred. It is something he has passed down to our 5-year-old, at least once a week I will wake up to find both my husband and daughter gone having woken up early to sneak out and try a new donut shop. They have tried almost all of the ones in are area and are slowly moving farther and farther away in search of the perfect donut. When they aren't questing for the perfect donut, I like to appease them by making this fun and delicious powdered donut recipe. They love it and it is fairly easy to make. 

You will need:

  • 1.5 cups lukewarm water
  • 1/2 C. sugar
  • 1 envelop yeast
  • 2 eggs, beaten slightly
  • 1 1/4 t. salt
  • 1 cup evaporated milk
  • 7 cups flour
  • 1/4 C. Shortening
  • Pan with oil for frying
  • 2- 3 C. Powdered Sugar
  • Lid or cookie cutter for cutting the donuts 
Mix the sugar, water and yeast into a bowl and let sit for about 10 minutes. In a different bowl, mix evaporated milk, eggs and salt together. After the 10 minutes mix the egg mixture into the yeast mixture. Add 3 cups of the flour and stir until mixed well. Add the shortening, stirring constantly while you add the rest of the flour. Knead the dough on a floured surface until smooth. Let your dough rise for at least 2 hours.

Roll out dough to about 1/4 inch thickness and then use a small round cookie cutter or lid to cut the donuts. I use a lid from one of my spice jars. Add a small hole to the center of the donut with your thumb and then slowly stretch out the dough. Fry in oil heated to about 350 degrees until golden brown. Flip the donuts often to make sure the color is even. Drain the beignets for a few moments on a plate with paper twoels.  Add your powdered sugar to a brown lunch sack. Then add the hot donuts to the sack, close and shake until donuts are covered in sugar. Then enjoy the delicious, airy-ness of these donuts.

Make sure you check out the other 9 fabulous donut recipes participating in the hop today. Just click on the picture or title below to grab the recipe. Image Map
Rook No 17 - Mallow Krispy donuts
Our Thrifty Ideas -  Cinnamon Roll donuts
Dessert Now Dinner Later -  Boston Cream donuts
Housewife Eclectic - Powdered donuts
Rae Gun Ramblings - Dairy Free donuts
Tastes Better from Scratch - Sour Cream Old Fashioned donuts
Snap Creativity - Pina Colada donuts
Messes to Memories -  Chocolate Caramel Cake donuts
One Sweet Appetite - Maple Bacon donuts
Over The Big Moon - Sweet Waffle donuts  
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