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Tips and Tutorials


Graduation Party Bites

Hopefully you now have a theme for your Graduation Party.  No?  Check out our previous post.  Now, it's time to plan the food.  I'm a fan of layers. I love seven layer dip, seven layer salad, and seven layer bars. Yum!!! Grad food bites can be elaborate or as easy as a popcorn bar with lots of goodies. Yes!! One of our favorite bites at our baby girl's graduation party was a s'more bar. I'm always a fan of those. Childhood nostalgia mixed with chocolate is always a win!!

I created a Pinterest board with links to recipes found in the image below (images courtesy of Pinterest):

Yum!  I'm off to make a snack now.  I'd love to hear what your favorite foods are to serve at parties. 



VIP Senior Experience

I really am abundantly blessed with the most beautiful/handsome seniors to photograph!  I love everything about photographing my senior clients.  My favorite part? Seeing their eyes when I show them the back of my camera.  Their eyes always light up and then they relax a bit.  One senior girl told me that she didn't realize she looked like that.  Gorgeous!  And my second favorite part?  Seeing their faces and the faces of their family and friends when they see their finished images for the very first time.  Delight! Part of the VIP experience means that we take the time to bring out the best qualities in our seniors.  Whether it is coordinating the perfect location to go with their outfits, helping put together outfits, gathering specific props for their unique sessions,  and creating an experience they will hopefully treasure,  I always strive to edit my images to help make them shine even more than they already do.

Here is an example from a recent session:

The straight out of the camera shot is beautiful.  But if you look a little closer there are some dark circles, a few blemishes, and a little uneven skin tone (we all have that).   Adding a few edits gives the WOW factor.   Slight edits to make all of us look our best.  We do this for all of our sessions. because that is how we would want to be treated too.

We have already begun booking Class of 2015 Senior Sessions.  Because we offer unique, exclusive photo sessions, we have a set amount of sessions that we can offer each month.  Summer and Fall sessions are already booking very quickly.  Please, email us to reserve your VIP Session {}  We can hardly wait to meet you!



I Cleaned My Oven!

Seriously, this should be national news! I actually cleaned my oven. Yay!!! Honestly, I wouldn't have cleaned it but the putrid burnt smell every time we tried to cook or bake was starting to get to all of us. If my man can smell it, it is pretty bad! He can't smell anything compared to my "super" nose as he calls it. I have self cleaning ovens. I know, I'm spoiled. Actually, I would be totally spoiled if the oven makers of the world would get together and put a nice vanilla smell in the actual oven-self-cleaning mode. It may just be my ovens, but every time I turn on the self cleaning ovens, it stinks and we all have to leave the house or keep the windows open. It's bad! A Vanilla scent would be so nice. They just need to get with the Febreeze peeps and maybe even the people who make little pine trees for cars. Self Cleaning Oven Scents, I called it first!

Anyway, there was so much junk in the bottom of my oven from things that had bubbled over and the salt that I threw on top of it to cut the burning smell, that I thought might be too much for my self cleaning button and way too much for the Easy Off cleaner. So what is a girl to do?

I got on Facebook to avoid the whole oven issue. And guess what was waiting in the news feed? A guy that cleaned his oven the "easy" way. Yeah, right! I read some more and thought to myself that this couldn't be any worse than the smell that fumigated my beautiful home every time I tried to cook a meal....or warm up our take out pizza. Hello Martha? Not so much lately, these days.

The facebook link mentioned doing a little something and then leaving it overnight. Perfect!

Warning!  UGLY oven pictured below.   I can't believe I'm posting this for all of the world to see.  Yes, this is my oven.  I was serious about sprinkling salt on things that bubbled over.

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To Clean your oven:

Preheat to 150 While the oven is heating, put on a pot of water to boil. Once the oven has reached 150 F, turn it off and pour 1 cup of ammonia into a heat safe bowl or baking dish and place it on the top rack of the oven. Place the pot of boiling water on the bottom rack, close the oven door, and leave them both in the oven overnight.

So far so good! No putrid smell and it was as easy as boiling a pot of water! I'm liking this!

In the morning, I opened the oven door removed both the bowl of ammonia and the pot of water. Don’t dispose of the ammonia; you’ll want to use it later. Add 1-2 teaspoons of liquid dish soap to the ammonia, along with a quart of warm water, and using a heavy-duty nylon scrubbing pad dipped in the ammonia mixture, begin to wipe away the softened grease and grime along the sides and bottom of the oven. It should be a fairly easy job at this point. Wear kitchen gloves. It didn't take longer than 10 minutes to do this step.

This is what my oven looked like after rinsing and scrubbing a bit:

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Looking good but still needs a bit of work!  I grabbed Easy Off Cleaner and did a little more work which yielded this:

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Much, much better! I smile every time (the one time) I use my oven. The putrid burnt smell is gone. Hallelujah!!! And I feel a bit more like my inner Martha-self is smiling now too!



S'More Cookies~Yum!

Hannah had fun making a new recipe for one of her guy friends that came to her rescue one day at school.  He will tell you that it wasn't a big deal, but it meant a great deal to us. Even though she was at a Solo and Ensemble Competition (She is state bound for the 3rd year in a row), she sent me a text with ingredients that she needed to make these cookies.  S'mores combined with chocolate chip cookies sounded amazing!

Smore cookies004005006007008


And they really were delicious!


You can find the recipe by clicking here.




I thought it would be fun to share with you one of my favorite apps today! Do you have Dropbox?  It has become an invaluable resource for me.  And the best part? It is free!!!  I have the Dropbox app on my iphone, my ipad, and on my computer at home and school.  I love it for sharing images with clients and friends but my favorite feature is that dropbox automatically downloads all of my iphone and ipad images to my Dropbox account.  I'll have my images even if I, heaven forbid, drop and break my phone.  Yay!!!  And it does it automatically.  So cool!

And no, this post isn't sponsored by Dropbox in any way.  I just think they are a pretty cool idea serving in a much needed venue!

Do you have a favorite app?  I'm always looking for new ones!



Jewelry Cleaner via Facebook

I saw this on facebook and Pinterest and decided to give it a try! I am so glad that I did. It works better than toothpaste and a toothbrush, and much better than that red liquid jewelry cleaner that has something growing in it in the back of my cabinet. I may or may not have had that cleaner for a decade. Yikes! The recipe is simple and you probably have all of the ingredients already.

In a medium sized bowl or plastic container add: 2 tablespoons of salt 2 tablespoons of baking soda, 2 tablespoons of dish detergent 2 cups of water that was heated in the microwave for 1 to 2 minutes 1 piece of aluminum foil that is larger than the bottom of the bowl (put it in the bottom of the bowl)

Then add your jewelry:

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The solution bubbles a bit. I didn't leave my jewelry in there very long. It totally works!!! 2013-08-02 18.46.42



Ten on Tuesday

TenonTuesday 1. Have you seen the Oscar Mayer Carving commercial?  Cracks me up every time! 2.  Pencils in a pretty polka-dot mug makes me smile....can you tell I am a teacher?



3.  Speaking of things that make me smile!  I am always, always on the computer!  I teach high school computer classes and run the school's website but I also have my photography business where I am constantly editing pictures, designing albums or promo material, plus bookkeeping, etc.  It is hard to keep my nails looking pretty.  Until I found shellac nails!  Love shellac nails.  I can go nearly 3 weeks before I have to pick a new color. Yay!  I've been stuck in a french nail rut and wanted to try something new.  I had this grey color in my mind, not quite black, but not light grey either.  The sweet nail  lady suggested mixing two colors.  Yay!!!  One is an OPI color and the other another brand (#'s 45 and 50).  I love this grey color and I am finding it goes with anything I wear this winter.  Plus, my man thinks it's a sexy color.  Delight!



4.  I have a Pinterest addiction!  Do you Pinterest too?  My Pinterest name is Kikis Corner Blog.  You can see my boards here.  Warning:  It's fun and can quickly eat up a few hours before you know it!

5.  I actually had to explain what floppy disks were to my students last week.  They have only known zip drives and cds/dvds.  Really?!?  Should I dare explain records or 8 tracks???



6.  Almond Milk!  Who knew!  It is delicious in my morning smoothie.  It makes my green drink taste like a high calorie milk shake.  YUM!


7.  We have been eating apples incorrectly for generations!  Seriously!! My dad can eat apples like a champion.  He leaves a perfect apple core. Watching him eat an apple is an art form.  But, he totally needs to watch this video.  Who knew?! (if the link isn't working, click here)

8.  I met with an architect to talk about my dream studio!!!  I'm not sure if we will be able to afford to build the studio now or not, but the planning process is so much fun!!!

9.  We have warmer weather with highs in the 70s and then a day later we have highs of 35 degrees.  The warmer weather makes me excited to plant a spring garden again.  My mouth is watering at the though of home grown tomatoes!!!

10.  Spring gardening makes me think of my calendar.  The month of June is filled with 4 weddings, camps, and family vacations.  It is going to be a fun, yet very full summer!







Ten on Tuesday

Two Ten on Tuesday posts in a row, woo hoo!!! 003web

1. I love to photograph lights and the bokeh that comes with it. Bokeh is the blurred or out of focus areas like you see above. That is our Christmas tree, but you can't tell because of the bokeh. Cool eh?


2. I rented a few lenses before Christmas. And this fish eye was one of them. While I thought it was a really cool lens, I can't see using it for portraits but it sure was fun to play with!

3. I did purchase the lens I have been dreaming about for two years and wow is it heavy on my camera! But, it takes amazingly clear pictures on the basketball court and I'm thinking on the football field this fall. Delight!!!

4. We were in Arizona this month and we will fly to Nevada for a few days next month. I'm liking this travel trend for 2014!


5. Our Bichon, Tinkerbell, hasn't been acting like herself. She is 15 (or will be this October) and we were starting to dread taking her to the vet for fear of what she might suggest. Turns out, Tink is having some lower back pain. Can you blame her, she is over 100 in dog years. Twice a day, she gets to take a little treat that makes the pain subside. We are thankful!!! In the process of trying to figure out what was wrong and why she would cry all night long, we discovered she adores Starbucks as much as we do! So we always get her a cup of water when we drive through. So fun!


6. I say this often! I am blessed with the BEST clients and friends! This was our surprise dinner delivery this week. It was delicious!!! And we are overwhelmed with gratitude for the sweet friends and clients God has blessed us with.

7. I am reading this book and loving it!!!  God loves you, He always has, He always will!!!

8.  It's been too long since I read a good book just because!  It seems I go from teaching high school to photo shoots, to editing pictures, to ordering sessions, to laundry, to.....  I'm thankful for a few stolen moments away with this book.  It is a treasure and a wonderfully incredible reminder that we are dearly loved!  One of my favorite parts from the book, and I have several, talks about God's love being the ocean, although it is even bigger than the ocean.  If we are a fish in His deep ocean of love, we are surrounded, filled, and covered over and over again with His love!  Glory!  I sobbed when I read, He loves us, and He already loves our children, our grandchildren, and our great-grandchildren. What a thought!

9.  Speaking of water, after my awful round of pneumonia this fall, I am determined to take better care of myself.  I can almost see my man's eyes rolling!  I was terribly sick this fall, sick enough to come face to face with the reality that I can't possibly take care of my home, my family, my students, and my clients if I am sick.  That is such a no-brainer thought, but for this people-pleaser who has a hard time saying no to good things and good people, taking care of myself is often on the back burner!  So, I am drinking more water than I thought possible which is really fun trying to find time to go to the bathroom in between classes!  There is a new app I bought for my phone that reminds me to drink my water.  It is called WaterMinder.  It drives me nuts throughout the day, but I really am doing better about drinking my water.  And my hair and my skin are so thankful.

Matt Redman - 10,000 Reasons (Bless the Lord) (Official Music Video) from matt-redman on GodTube.

10.  I could listen to Matt Redman's, "10,000 Reasons" song 10,000 times a day and probably still tear up every time.  I adore this song....and don't we all have at least 10,0000 reasons to bless the Lord?!




Photography for Your Walls

What a blessing to be a photographer! I am so thankful for this wonderful adventure with the Lord. I am blessed to meet the most amazing clients, who often become friends. What a joy to watch their children grow up. I know that there are many photographers to choose from, so I am always over-the-moon excited when clients choose me! There are so many things that I love about this gift from the Lord, but one of the fun things is helping clients decorate their walls with beautiful pictures of their loved ones from our photography sessions. I nearly cry every time a client sends me an image of their finished walls or when I walk into their beautiful homes and see images adorning their walls from our sessions. {I'm choked up just typing those words}. The joy that fills this heart of mine is indescribable. Those images are captured memories to treasure for years and years. And as a photographer, I want your heart to sing every time you see your images on your walls. I know this first hand! I have a large canvas on my living room wall of my beautiful girls; it's the image that actually started my photography business. I literally smile every time that I walk past it! This image of my girls is four years old....before braces for Hannah, Rachel with shorter hair, before college, and I could go on and on. I absolutely love this image and it catches my eye ever time I am in my Living Room. Next to the large canvas, I have my entry way table with pictures of my girls. The images are 8x10s and 4x6s. I love these images too but I don't notice them every time I walk into my Living Room. These images are beautiful on my console table but certainly don't deliver the wow factor that the large print delivers.

Our minds are trained to think that 8x10s are perfect for our walls, when in fact they are better suited for desk prints. We are comfortable with 8x10s because that is familiar. But, an 8x10 on our wall is going to look quite different compared to a 30x40. I know, I'm starting to sound like a salesman. And if you really know me, you know that I am not trying to be but rather I am trying to help you realize that while photography is expensive, I want you to have the WOW factor when you look at your walls. Here are a few examples to show you what I mean. Which one would you want adorning your walls?

I love this collage: Photography for your walls

And while I love this image, I don't love it so much on this wall. It looks so tiny!


Much better, don't you agree?


I have several framed pieces in my home, but I am loving the clean edges of Canvas and Standouts, and 90% of my clients do too. Frames can be so expensive! No framing required for standouts and canvas and you never have to worry about your frame going out of style (does country blue ring a bell with anyone other than me?)


And by the way, my desk looks nothing like this one, although how nice would that be? I'll spare you the image of my desk, but my inner Martha (Stewart) feels the strong need to do some reorganizing!



My Gold Toms

My girls love to wear Toms shoes! And their love of Toms and the great mantra the company shares with the rest of the world made me love Toms too! I have four pair now. My favorite pair is my sparkly red ones. This Kansas-born-and-raised-girl (until the middle of my 8th grade year) simply had to have them! They remind me of Dorothy shoes and since the high school where I teach and where Hannah plays basketball is red and grey, they were simply meant to be! And I may or may not occasionally, when my high school students are being a bit rude or rowdy, click my heels together and think to myself, "There's no place like home!" :-)

The red sparkly ones are my favorite, but I also have a pair that I thought I liked when I first bought them but then realized they just needed something. With the blessed growth of my photography business and my responsibilities at home and at school, I don't have a lot of time to get my craft on.

But, with the upcoming Baylor game, I had my inspiration and a little extra time (extra meaning, I was finishing these babies up at 3:30 in the morning, right before we caught our 9:30 flight.


This is what I started with:

I carefully stuffed each shoe with newspaper and taped off the parts that I didn't want to paint with blue painters tape:

This is what I used to glitter-fy my Toms:

I poured the Mod Podge into a plastic bowl (which makes clean up easier) and added lots of gold glitter. Can you have too much glitter?!

And then I started painting the glitter and glue mixture all over my shoes. I would suggest starting with a thin coat, letting it dry for about 30 minutes, and then adding another coat.

It doesn't look awesome at this point, but it will. Be patient! (I hear you giggling Mom! I'm not a fan of the "P" word.)

To speed things up a bit, I decided to paint the glitter/glue mixture on and then microwave each shoe for 30 seconds. I don't recommend this step. It doesn't smell lovely and it makes the glue run.

Finally, after three coats, I decided to peel off the tape to reveal the design.  Looking good.  At around midnight, I decided it would be super awesome to tape off the gold and add green glitter to the plain part of the shoes.  Green and Gold, Sic 'em Baylor Bears!

Decisions at midnight when you are flying to Arizona in 9 and a half hours wasn't the best choice.  It looked ugly (now I'm singing that silly song in my head, U-G-L-Y, you ain't got no alibi, you ugly, hey, hey, you ugly)  Please, excuse me if I don't have the correct words to that song, as my family, I tend to make up my own all of the time.

This is totally off topic, but do you remember that song called, "Sad Eyes?"  If you are a child of the 70's or late 60's you do.  I would sing, "Satellite, turn the other way..."  I was convinced those were the words!  Just yesterday, our family was talking about the movie Pitch Perfect and that song, "No Diggity....or something like that" came on.  I thought it was, "No Dignity!"  At least I'm consistent!

Anyway, back to the shoes, after the ugly green glitter part dried and I carefully put them on my feet to see what they looked like, I decided to cover them up with more gold!

And this is where I should have a final picture, but I don't. The all gold shoes were pretty cool...a bit ghetto, but cool. I finished the shoes with a clear coat of spray sealer, quickly put them outside to dry for the next 4 hours, and finally went to bed.

Four hours later, the shoes were frozen solid! I packed them anyway in individual zip lock bags and off we went. When we arrived at our hotel in Arizona, our suitcase had a lovely varnish kind of smell. My shoes? Somehow they dried perfectly, they didn't crack, and I proudly wore them to the Baylor Pep Rally the night before the Fiesta Bowl. Whew!!!

And then Baylor lost the bowl game, end of story! Maybe they needed a little gold glitter on their shoes!