January 22, 2015

Very Healthy Blueberry Buckwheat Pancakes

I loooove pancakes! Especially blueberry or banana pancakes. I eat them every Saturday and Sunday morning.  No weekend morning can start off without homemade pancakes, comfy pj's, a HUGE cup of coffee, and a feel good movie!  

This pancake recipe is a little different because I'm using Buckwheat in place of the traditional all purpose flour.  I do this because it is healthier for me.  I also use coconut oil to add extra flavor and healthiness to the mix. 

You really need to try Buckwheat pancakes or any type of recipe with Buckwheat if you haven't already.  It's awesome.  Buckwheat is not actually a grain but it sure does act like one when you cook.  FYI: It is a seed of a broadleaf plant and is related to the rhubarb.  Buckwheat is a terrific substitute for people who are going gluten free and for people who just want to create healthier versions of their favorite foods. 

If you want to avoid over processed "white" flour pancakes, which most pancakes are, Buckwheat is a great alternative!! 

Blueberry Buckwheat Pancakes

1 cup buckwheat pancakes mix (I use the Arrowhead Mills brand)
1 tbsp coconut oil
1 cup milk (I use almond milk but regular cows milk or soy milk or even water will work too)
1/4 cup blueberries

Coconut oil is solid at room temp.  To liquify it, run it under very hot water for a few minutes or let it sit in a bowl of hot water.

If you have a larger family, feel free to double all the ingredients to ensure enough pancakes for everyone.  But this amount listed in the recipe is perfect for just me and Matt on a Sunday AM. We usually have 1 or 2 pancakes leftover.

Heat a heavy non-stick griddle or well seasoned cast iron skillet to 375-400 degrees.
Stir all of the ingredients together in a medium bowl using a spatula. Do not over mix. Batter should be thin and more on the runny side versus the thick side.
Pour about ¼ cup of batter, for each pancake, onto the hot pre heated griddle and cook until bubbles appear on the top.
Flip and cook until golden brown on the bottom.

Butter pancakes, drizzle with warm maple syrup, and serve with applewood smoked bacon- one of my favorites! SO YUM!

I hope you come to enjoy this much healthier version of the traditional pancake! I promise you will love it!

January 19, 2015

Our Winter Family Portrait Session

I realized a while ago that I don't have any pictures of me and Matt with our English bulldog, Mr. Truck.  Sure we have plenty of iphone selfies of us three (mostly grainy with bad lighting thanks to our apartment) but no professional quality family pictures of all of us.  A winter family session was in store. 

I wanted to share these special pictures with you so you can get a glimpse into our family and how spunky our little bulldog is.  We love him so much and he brings us a million laughs a day. 

I did some initial planning before hand, mostly picking out our attire, a few acccessories, and making sure Trucky had everything he needed to have fun but otherwise it was pretty much on a whim.

We went over to our favorite little lake by our house and set up shop in the woods.  I expected it go to smoothly but it was a lot more complicated with Trucky in the picture.  He was hyper and running around like crazy, wanting nothing to do with the shoot and everything to do with his beloved ball.  However with a little treat bag and some patience we got these great shots of our little family of three. 

Mr. Truck's face in this picture is priceless!

A year ago we shot our own Engagement Pictures but I think this shoot came out so much better than that one for several reasons.  The poses weren't all that spectacular and we felt rushed that day so I felt like it was reflected a little bit in the overall shoot.  So this day I really wanted to focus on various poses, taking our time, and incorporating some cool accessories like a bright hat and scarf to make the pictures pop even more.  I mean it's Winter...there isn't much color out there to work with so props and accessories really add that extra element of interest to the picture.

For this shoot we used an 80-200mm zoom lens.  It provides that really great blurry background (bokeh) and is just such a great lens for shooting portraits as well as landscapes.

I'm really excited about how these turned out.  Can't wait to get them developed to hang around our house!!

Right now I am working on a post about how to shoot your own quality family pictures so be sure to look out for that coming up.  It will have a bunch of great tips you do not want to miss! :) 

December 29, 2014

Mandarin Orange Salad Recipe

Salad is one of those perfect additions that will round out any meal.  Its got color, flavor, and lots and lots of eye appeal.  This one is one of my favorite new salads because the dressing is AH-MAZING! So sweet, fruity, and flavorful.  I normally love the balsamic types of dressings but this one is a great change up.  It really adds a little something different to a regular ole salad. 

Mandarin Orange Salad Recipe


5-6 cups salad of your choice (I used mixed greens)
1 can of mandarin orange slices, drained
1/2 cup chopped red onions
1 T orange marmalade
2 T red wine vinegar
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
Salt and Pepper, to taste


Place salad in a nice serving bowl.  Top with mandarin orange slices and chopped red onion.  Whisk together the marmalade and vinegar.  Keep whisking as you work the oil into the dressing.   Pour the dressing over the salad and season it with salt and pepper to your liking right before serving.  Yum!

December 19, 2014

Cleansing, Purging, and Opening up Space for New Things in 2015

2015 is right around the corner so it's a perfect time to start thinking about a new year and a new you.

What do you want for yourself in 2015?

I am busy thinking about what this new year will bring to me, Matthew, and our new family.  I have so many personal goals for 2015, some of which I have already started working on, for example, getting this blog back up and running because it means a lot to me and I want to see it grow.  Matthew and I also have a lot of specific photography-business related goals and objectives that we are currently working on for next year.  Running and traveling are also high on my list.

2014 was a wonderful year!  I got married, turned 30, ran my first half marathon, gained more confidence and skill behind the camera and found what it is I really want to focus on when it comes to photography, and I grew more Spiritually and confidently as a woman.  It was a big year for me.

In addition to building a stronger self, I deleted a lot of "crap" and "fluff" from my Facebook, Blogger, Twitter, Email and computer accounts.  I cannot even begin to tell you how much better I feel having a Facebook friend list of less than 100 people, email accounts with 5 emails in the inbox, and all of my photos neatly organized within specific folders. My physical office space is always neat and tidy so I felt like I needed to go into 2015 with an online atmosphere that was more clutter-free.  It's amazing how fast clutter can build up on your computer and in your social media outlets.  I just felt like it was all such a distraction.  It needed to be dealt with so I could focus on my goals in 2015.  Scrolling through a feed of hundreds and hundreds of people and pages is time consuming and I've had a lot of guilt about spending precious time invested on people and things that don't matter.  With all of those online distractions, I was not spending my time wisely, for instance, on my blog or helping Matthew out.  Downsizing in many different areas was needed for my personal growth, my happiness, and my sanity. 

I have also started gathering things around our home that we no longer need so I can donate them to Goodwill or sell them on Craigslist.  One awesome thing that has come about this purge is my realization that I want to start collecting vintage cameras!  Matthew and I have about 6 or 7 vintage cameras from the 70's and 80's that were given to us over the years.  They were sitting in our storage unit collecting dust.  I was going to sell them too but at the last minute I decided to take pictures of them with my DSLR camera for a cool photoshoot.  I am so glad I did because I have now decided to keep them and start collecting vintage cameras and vintage video cameras.  I am ecstatic about this new found hobby and can't wait to share more about it next week.

2015 is going to be a fabulous year!

Have you done anything to get ready for 2015 yet? 

Have a great weekend!

December 18, 2014

6 Beauty Products I Wish I Never Bought and Why

Hi everyone! Today I want to talk about products.  Nothing irks me more than a beauty product fail.  Ugh, that hard earned money wasted.  The disappointment.  The frustration.  We have all been there.  It's such a let down when products fail to meet expectations, especially after we have spent time reading countless reviews.

When it comes to my purchases (beauty supplies, food products, or anything I could potentially want to try out in the future) I want to know the good, the bad, and the ugly.  Negative reviews often help me more than positive ones because they save me money and time- two things we all need more of, right?

Today I'm sharing some beauty products I have bought, tried (sometimes multiple times), and ended up tossing in the garbage can!  Most of them are drug store products.  I hope that this post will help you with your purchase selections next time you go out shopping.  These are my beauty product regrets...

6 Beauty Products I Wish I Never Bought
1. MAC Beauty Blending Sponge
I have used the MAC Beauty Sponge one or two times since purchasing.  I do not like it one bit.  It doesn't get wet or retain moisture very well.  I also don't like how flat it is as it doesn't apply makeup very well due to its shape.  The texture is also very rough.  Ouch!  I'm spoiled with the Beauty Blender nowadays and this one just doesn't even compare.  Not sure how much I spent on it (knowing MAC it was probably too much) but it was definitely money wasted. 

2. Toni&Guy Curling Iron
I tried.  I really did.  But no matter what, I never liked this product.  This curling iron doesn't get hot enough for me.  It takes forever to curl a strand of hair, and in the end, there is still no curl to be seen.  The barrel is extremely smooth and slippery which makes it hard to hold the hair in place during the curling process.  I don't like it at all and I have been much happier since purchasing a more expensive and professional curling iron at Ulta for $70 (I will do a post on it in the future).  But it was completely worth every penny even after the first use.  The Toni&Guy curling iron was $20 at Target if I recall.  Either way, I believe curling irons are one of those beauty products where you really get what you pay for.  Spend the extra money on a professional grade curling iron.  You won't regret it.  Promise!
3.  CeraVe Facial Moisturizing Lotion
A while back when it started to get really cold here in NC, my skin got really dry so I decided to look into purchasing a better moisturizer for my face.  I just wanted something over the counter and not high end.  I read a bunch of reviews on this product and felt like it was a good choice for me.  Wrong.  It made me break out within a matter of minutes.  Not even exaggerating.  A red rash plus acne! Nightmare.  It was extremely irritating and pore clogging.  It never felt like it soaked into my skin, but rather, just felt like an oil mask sitting on my face all day long.  Gross! Never again CeraVe, never again.

4.  Jordana Fabuliner
This was such a huge let down because I am OBSESSED with Jordana.  Their eye liners and lip liners are amazing.  This is a great drugstore line and normally I love all of their products but this particular product I did not care for.  I read so many raves on this felt tip pen eyeliner.  Let me say that I love the physical product: the packaging is great, I love the way the thick wand feels in my hand, and the felt tip is super soft and lovely against my skin.  However, I just can't get any product to show up.  It isn't pigminted enough and it comes out looking watery and splotchy.

5.  Maybelline Lash Stiletto
The only thing going for this product is the packaging.  There was so much advertising for this product so I had high hopes for it back in the day.  Hate is a strong word but I really hate this mascara.  It does nothing for me.  The wand is absolutely horrible and makes my lashes look extremely clumpy and dirty.  Nothing more to say here.

6. Almay Lip Gloss (Apple a Day)
I am SO picky when it comes to my lip products.  I don't like anything sticky, wet, or glittery.   This lip product was "Meh".  It's not as pigmented as it looks in the picture or in person so it doesn't really show up very well on my lips.  It's a little too glossy for me.  It basically gives you a light hint of red with a lot of clear gloss.  Basically, it's sheer.  If you are looking for a bright red glossy lips, this is not your product.  I would look into something from Bobby Brown.  Their lip glosses are the best.

What beauty products do you regret buying and why? I would love to hear what didn't work for you!