Taking a Break...

With the summer upon us and life getting busier by the minute, I have decided to take a short break from posting at Hullabaloo. I will continue to post on my other blog, To Be Debt Free, and will return to posting here very soon.

Grilled Zucchini and Summer Squash

Remember my post about heading to the Farmer's Market for fresh fruits and veggies? Do you have an abundance of fresh veggies that need to be eaten? I have to perfect recipe for you!

-makes 4 servings-
Adapted from Everyday Food Magazine


4 medium zucchini (about 2 pounds total) sliced lengthwise about 1/4 inch thick
4 medium yellow squash (about 2 pounds total) sliced lengthwise1/4 inch thick
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
Coarse salt and ground pepper


Heat grill to medium. In a large bowl, gently toss zucchini, yellow squash, oil, vinegar, and oregano; season with salt and pepper. Working in batches if necessary, lift vegetables from marinade and grill, covered, turning once, until tender, 6 to 8 minutes. Reserve marinade. (To store, refrigerate vegetables and remaining marinade separately, up to one day.) Drizzle grilled vegetables with remaining marinade and serve.

The Vacation to Hell (and back!): Part 2

Here's the next installment of my horrible vacation saga, if you missed the first part please go here.

Tuesday we decided to head to Sonic for lunch, the kids loved it! Always a hit to go there with Rachel, but for Dylan it was all new even though he’s been to the beach 2 times before. It was really neat to see how excited he was about everything! After lunch Sean’s Aunt calls and asks us to come down. The guys had gone golfing and were back. We pack up and head down there. It was great to hang out with everyone and have a few beers on the beach while the kids played. Dylan started crying that he wanted a gumball and it got worse and worse. Finally Sean decided to run him to the Dollar Store and get him some damn gumballs! At this same time I went inside to put Grace down for a nap. I heard him outside as he left with Dylan. By the time Grace was asleep Sean and Dylan had returned. We swam for a while more and then it was time to make dinner. Sean’s cousin and I went out front for a while to talk and I casually asked where Sean had parked since I was inside when he came back. Amy told me he parked behind her car. Well, I didn’t see it, so I asked if she was sure. She said yeah, but headed to the driveway to see. We both looked up and down the street. She then said, “Well maybe it was towed, was it blocking the sidewalk?” I didn’t know so I asked Sean.

He tells me he parked behind Amy’s car. I told him it wasn’t there. He ran out to look. SHOCK. It was gone. His Aunt called the towing company. Nope, they didn’t tow it. She calls the PD, no, they didn’t tow it. The police show up to get a report. My fucking car was stolen! In broad daylight, on a very exclusive part of a private beach. What the fuck. The rest of the night is a blur. I’d been drinking, now my car has been stolen. I have to remember what credit cards I had in my purse, what else was in my car, call the insurance company, figure out what the fuck happens next.

OK, so Tuesday night is spent calling credit card companies, State Farm, etc. We also called my mom and Sean’s mom, and I think I talked to Sam that night too. (Sorry Sam, I was a mess and didn’t know what to do!). The next morning I have to figure out what to do first. I called SF for some guidance as to what to do next. More good news. MY car doesn’t have rental coverage, but for some reason Sean’s car does? Yay! The lady was nice and said she’d see what she could do. Calls back, they’ll pay $25/day for a rental. So it ended up we paid 50/50. One crisis taken care of! Next we wait for the guy to pick Sean up so we can fill out the paperwork and get the rental van. (Our only choice w/3 kids, they had no SUVs w/3rd row seating.) Sean gets the van and comes back. Now it’s my turn. I had asked SF if I should just get some seats to get us home and then get the new ones I want, or just get them here. She tells me that I should get the ones I wanted now b/c they’ll only reimburse one set. OK. I decide to check Wally World first, but have a back up plan to go to BRU. The whole time I thinking to myself, “Shit. This is 2 majorly bad things, what’s next? Is one of my kids going to get hurt?” I was scared, on edge, just a wreck. At WalMart they had a really good selection of carseats, so I again called Sam (sorry! Thanks, you were such a help!) We discussed the different seats and I went w/the Evenflo Triumph for Grace and the Alpha Omega Elite for Dylan and a booster for Rachel, Cosco I think? Headed back to the condo.

Sean had decided to try to make everyone feel better and had gotten tickets to go see Medieval Times that night. This is the highlight of the trip for Rachel every year, so we felt obliged to go. The kids seemed to have a really good time. It helped a little bit, but I still was thinking about my interview w/SF the next day. I was still upset over my car. At this point I was feeling like even if it was found, I didn’t want it. I felt so violated. Sick to my stomach. We head back to the condo and watched TV, etc.

Corn Casserole


3 cans of cream corn

4 eggs

4 tbs. Melted butter

4 tbs. Flour

4 tbs. Sugar

½ tsp. Salt

Put all in oven safe bowl, uncovered at 350 for 50-60 min. Half the recipe for half hour. Can't get any easier than this!

Campfire Cooking: Lesson Two

Campfire Potatoes

This meal pretty much cooks itself - just leave it in the coals! Be sure to count how many potatoes you put in the fire, because the foil becomes covered with ash, and blends in well with the coals.

Ingredients: large baking potatoes
whole onions, red or yellow

dill, parsley, bacon bits

Directions: Slice potato almost all the way through, but leave enough to hold it together. Slice the onion, and put one slice in between each potato slice. Sprinkle with bacon bits and a little dill. Wrap well with heavy aluminum foil and bury in the coals of the fire. Leave untouched for about 45 minutes, and test for doneness by piercing with a fork - the fork should lift out without lifting the potato. Cooking time depends on size of potatoes and strength of fire. Serve with pat of butter and a few sprigs of parsley.

Green Summer Tip

Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States, but it's also the easiest to prevent with the proper protection.

Titanium dioxide and zinc oxide are minerals that physically block ultraviolet (UV) rays from reaching your skin, as opposed to other sunscreens that use chemicals to absorb UV rays. Minerals are considered the best protection against sunburn because they block both UVB rays (which cause sunburns) and UVA rays (which cause skin aging and cancer). Chemical sunscreens, on the other hand, don't always protect against UVA.

SPF is an FDA-regulated rating system that represents how long it will take for exposed skin to burn with the sunscreen applied. For example, if your unprotected skin usually burns in 10 minutes, a sunscreen with an SPF 15 would prevent a sunburn for 15 times that length of time, or 150 minutes. However, SPF only rates UVB rays, not skin damaging UVA rays. For that reason, never rely entirely on a sunscreen's SPF, and look for products that advertise "broad-spectrum protection," which means it protects against both types of rays.

The primary drawback to sunscreens with titanium dioxide or zinc oxide is that they can leave a white tint on your skin. To make the lotions transparent, manufacturers shrink titanium dioxide or zinc oxide particles down to nano-sized particles. Because smaller particles can act differently than larger particles when they enter the body, these nano-sized particles have been cause for concern: Research indicates that nanoparticles of titanium dioxide are small enough to bypass your body's "blood-brain barrier" (a natural defense against foreign substances in the bloodstream) and enter the brain where they can damage brain cells. Larger particles, however, are blocked by that barrier and don't pose this problem. Fortunately, a 2006 Australian government literature review on the topic found that neither titanium dioxide nor zinc oxide penetrate the skin deep enough to actually enter the bloodstream, and most scientific evidence supports the fact that nano-sized particles of these ingredients are often trapped in the outer layer of the skin and not absorbed (they should always be avoided when used in powders that may be inhaled). However, if you'd rather err on the side of safety, opt for sunscreens that use micronized ingredients (particles larger than 100 nm), which are mostly transparent but may still offer a slight tint.

Photography Basics: Understanding Aperture

It's been a while since I did a photography post, so I thought now was as good a time as any! So far in this series I've covered; Photography terms defined, shooting modes, understanding white balance, and window-light portraiture. Today's photography lesson will be a more in-depth discussion about aperture.

The aperture is the hole through which the light passes through to reach the sensor or film. You can actually control the diameter of this hole on your camera. On old style cameras, there is an aperture ring that goes around the outside of the lens. Moving it around changes the diameter of the aperture.

You most likely will not have an aperture ring on your modern lenses, however, your lens still has the diaphragm inside that allows it to open and close, and you’ll have controls on on your camera that will allow you to control that diaphragm.

The numbers are called f-stops, moving up or down a stop halves or doubles the light let into the camera (the reason that the numbers look strange is down to some tricky math). Even though your camera doesn’t have an aperture ring, you’ll find that you can still adjust the aperture of your camera to these same values (although, depending on your lens, you might only be able to go as low as f4 or 5.6)

One thing that is really important to realize about the f numbers is that the smaller the number is, the larger the aperture is. This can be a bit tricky to grasp at first! If you increase the aperture by one stop (thus doubling the amount of light entering the camera), you’ll need to put the shutter speed down by one stop (and thus halving the amount of light entering the camera).

Fresh Finds at the Farmer's Market

What's in Season?

While many fruits and vegetables are available year-round, most are at their peak during specific seasons. You'll find the tastiest nectarines in the summer for example, while fiddlehead ferns are generally sold during the spring. With so much delicious produce to choose from, it's hard to figure out what to eat when. Luckily, this helpful produce guide lists the season's best options, so you'll never be unsure again!

Spring Fruit and Veggies

  • Apricots
  • Artichoke
  • Asparagus
  • Avacados
  • Carrots
  • Chives
  • Collard greens
  • Fennel
  • Fiddlehead Ferns
  • Mango
  • Mustard greens
  • New potatoes
  • Pineapple
  • Rhubarb
  • Spinach
  • Spring Baby Lettuce Mixes
  • Strawberries
  • Sugar Snap and Snow Peas
  • Vidalia Onions
  • Water Crest
Summer Fruits and Veggies
  • Beets
  • Blackberries
  • Blueberries
  • Broccoli
  • Chinese Cabbage
  • Corn
  • Cucumbers
  • Eggplant
  • Nectarines
  • Green Beans
  • Peaches
  • Plums
  • Raspberries
  • Summer Squash
  • Tomatoes
  • Watermelon
  • Zucchini
Now head on over to your nearest Farmer's Market and stock up on some delicious, fresh fruits and vegetables!

Caramel Cream Cheese Apple Pie

Caramel Cream Cheese Apple Pie

This pie is absolutely to die for, even better with ice cream!


  • 2 pastry crusts (I used one frozen pie crust for the bottom (the ones already in the tin) and one Pillsbury pastry for the top.)
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1.5 cups cups confectioners' sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons ground nutmeg
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 6 or more thinly sliced apples
  • 1 (2.5 ounce) package caramel apple circle (like what you'd use to bake on caramel apples.)
  • 1 tablespoon sugar

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
2. In a large bowl, blend cream cheese and powdered sugar until smooth and creamy. Set aside.
3. In a medium bowl, combine brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and flour. Mix well. Add apples to cream cheese mixture and stir until apples are evenly coated. Add brown sugar mixture to apple mixture gradually, stirring after each addition.
4. Pour half of apple mixture into pastry-lined pie plate. Place caramel circle over top, then pour in remaining apple mixture. Cover with second pastry. Seal edges and cut steam vent in top. Sprinkle with coarse sugar and cinnamon. Place pie on baking sheet covered with aluminum foil.
5. Bake in preheated oven for 45 minutes. Cover edges with foil after 15 minutes.

- I used granny smith apples - not usually my pie favorite but they turned out fantastic.
- I cut 5 vents in a diamond pattern on the top and had no boil out/over.

After you cook the pie, let it sit for an hour, then put in the fridge for an hour. If you cut it while its warm, it will collapse, the inside is liquid and needs to firm up. But you want to serve it warm, so cut a piece and warm it in toaster oven or 15 secs in microwave

The Vacation to Hell (and back!): Part 1

We left for our yearly family vacation to Surfside Beach, SC on August 17, 2007. However, right from the start we hit a road bump. The night before, as I was dropping the dogs off to the kennel, packing for myself, packing for 3 kids, and trying to get laundry and dishes done before we left, Sean offers to pick up a friend at the airport, at 10pm. I asked him not to do it, we were leaving the next day and he still needed to pack for himself and pack the car. But nope, he said he’d go pick up his buddy and come right home. Whatever, I finished as much as I could and went to bed around 11pm. Around 4am Sean comes in the bedroom and says, “Turn on the light, wake up. It’s important.” Groggily I look at the clock and turn on the light. He’s standing at the foot of the bed and tells me, “I wrecked the car. I was arrested for DUI, reckless driving, driving an uninsured vehicle, and open container. They put me in hand cuffs, I’ve spent the last 2 hours at the hospital. I’m sorry.”

Shocked I went to sleep. I don’t think I realized what he really had said until the morning. That morning was spent with Sean on the phone to his boss and his mom and the State Police and the tow place, etc. We got off to a late start and the whole drive down was miserable. Sean on the phone to his mom all day, 10 hours in a car w/3 kids. We spent the night in Richmond, VA. The next morning we got up early and got to the beach around 3pm. Sean took the kids to the beach and the pool while I went to Wal-mart to get groceries. We enjoyed the beach and the pool together when I got back. We made some dinner and relaxed in the condo. Around 9pm our best friends from Georgia arrived and the kids played for a while as us grown ups caught up (we hadn’t seen them since they moved in May). We all were in bed by midnight or so.

The next morning we got up early and fed all 5 kids and headed out to the beach. We swapped watching the kids between the pool and the beach and getting things ready for lunch, dinner, etc. A great day was had by all! We took a walk on the beach after dinner down to the pier. We got the kids some ice cream and hung out. We went back to the condo and the kids played and we had some beers. The next day our friends hung out for the morning and headed back to Georgia in the early afternoon.

We spent the rest of the day at the beach and pool, etc. I took Rachel and Grace for a walk while the boys slept. We headed about a mile down the road to where Sean’s Aunt and Uncle own a beach house. They were there with their 2 married adult children and their 4 grandchildren. We don’t see this side of his family much because they live in OH and SC. His Aunt asked us to come back tomorrow afternoon to hang out and eat dinner. We stayed for a while so Rachel could visit with her cousin and the others could meet Gracie. We got back to the condo and ate dinner and relaxed.

Read the next installment here.

Random Act of Kindness

So I told about going to see DMB over the weekend, but I forgot one very odd event that took place right before we left.

We had eaten breakfast and were getting into the car when the people who had been in the dining room with us struck up a conversation. They asked where we were from then the woman shoved a $20 in my hand. I tried to give it back to her and she said, "Are you working people?" We answered, Yes, and she said, "Then you need money." She got in her car and left!

We have no idea who these people were, only that they were from Alabama, based on their license plate.

Dave Matthews Band Concert

Last night hubby and I went to Pittsburgh to see the Dave Matthews Band concert at the Post Gazette Pavilion at Starlake in Burgettstown, PA. It was night two of their Summer 2008 tour. It was anything but ordinary, with the band playing cover songs for their encore both nights. Check out the setlist.

My mom came down to watch our kids for us for the night, arriving around noon on Saturday. We hit the road about 30-45 minutes later, making our estimated time of arrival at the Bed and Breakfast around 4pm. We stay at this great place just a few miles from the show called, Timber Crest Inn. We made decent time and got there right when we had planned.


I had eaten a sandwich before we left home, but I am always hungry and wanted to have dinner before we headed to the show. We decided to have dinner at the B&B. Let me just say that it was one of the best dinners I have ever eaten. I had Lobster Bisque, striped sea bass with lemon pepper seasoning over roasted red pepper fettucine with hearts of palm, mushrooms, artichoke hearts, and sundried tomatoes. On the side I had fresh garden asparagus. To wash it down I had my favorite beer, Yuengling.

After dinner we headed to the show, arriving around 6:30pm or so. We had heard that DMB went on at 8:20pm the night before, so decided to hang out in the lot for a while, then head in around 8pm to our seats. We timed it perfectly because right as we got to our seats, the band came on!


The show was great and hubby and I enjoyed a couple of $8 beers while there. We got out about 10:30pm and decided to head back to the B&B right away. If you've ever been to a DMB concert, you know that leaving the parking lot can be quite a feat! We finally managed to get out around11:30pm, notbad at all considering other times we've sat in the lot until 2am or later!


We hung out for a bit when we got back, then went to bed. Got up around 9am today and headed downstairs to the restaurant for the included breakfast. Yum, yum, yum! I had coffee, a cup of fruit, a homemade blueberry muffin, and the main course was eggs, potatoes, and sausage gravy over biscuits. We headed home right afterwards and got back around 2pm. A successful weekend was had by all!

My Visit to the Doctor

I've been struggling with these horrible paper like cuts at the corners of my mouth on and off for a few months now. I did some research online and discovered that my symptoms matched the description of angular chelitis.

According to my research, the initial onsett is due to a nutritional deficit, specifically Riboflavin, Vitamin B12, and iron deficiency anemia. I had recently stopped taking my prenatal vitamins since my youngest was about a year old and I no longer needed the extra vitamins to support a pregnancy or nursing. It made sense to me that I would get chelitis since I was no longer getting the extra iron or vitamin B. I went to the store and bough over the counter Prenatal vitamins. Within a few days, my symptoms were gone!

Well, the paper like cuts re-appeared and now the dry skin was also around my entire lips, top and bottom. It hurt to eat, it was embarrassing to be in public, etc. So, I looked online for some answers again.

Based on what I read, food deficiencies can also trigger an onset. But I eat fruits, vegetables, and whole grains daily, so that couldn't be the cause. I was also taking the prenatal vitamins, so I didn't think that there was a vitamin deficiency. Another reason I read about was not having any teeth being a cause. Well, that certainly doesn't apply to me because I have a mouthful of teeth!

I decided to make a doctor's appointment for some guidance on prevention and a solution. I had stopped drinking orange juice and eating other foods that aggravated my condition. As luck would have it, by the time I went to see the doctor, my symptoms had all but disappeared. I went ahead to see the doctor anyways.

I told him about my symptoms and what I had tried to make it better. He looks at my mouth, specifically around the corners. He tells me, "Sometimes when you are sleeping saliva gets in the corners and that is the cause" (said in a voice like Apu's from the Simpsons). Oh, okay, so basically what you're telling me is that I drool in my sleep? This doesn't make sense to me, but okay. He says to put some Cortisone on it for a couple of days and things should be fine.

Not the solution I was hoping for! I guess I'll just have to keep on doing what I have been and hope it eventually gets better, or go to see a dermatologist!

Campfire Cooking: Lesson One

Now that it's finally camping season here in NW Pennsylvania I thought it might be fun to run a series of Campfire Cooking Lessons.

Campfire cooking takes a bit of skill and practice, so let's start out with some basics. You want to make sure that you follow all the rules of the campground you're at to start with. Here are some general guidelines;

Campfire cooking requires a clean-burning, hot fire. This is only achieved with dry, seasoned wood. Stripping trees of green wood is fruitless - your fire will be smoky, will burn poorly and create unnecessary pollution. If dry wood is not available, it will need to be packed in. Many public campgrounds supply firewood - call ahead to see what's available.

Most public campgrounds have fire rings or fire pits at each site. However, if you are out in the woods here are some general guidelines for building your own;

Prepare the site - Select a fire site at least 8' from bushes or any combustibles. Be sure no tree branches overhang the site.- Make a U-shaped perimeter using large rocks or green logs. If using logs, they'll need to be wet down from time to time. If breezy, have back of firepit face the wind. - Put a large flat rock at the rear of the firepit to act as a chimney. The "chimney rock" will help direct the smoke up and away.

Lay the kindling - Fill the fire area with crumpled paper or tinder.- Lay kindling over paper in layers, alternating direction with each layer. Use thin splits of wood or small dead branches. Do not put kindling down "teepee style". The whole fire area should be covered with the kindling stack.- Set a bucket of water near the fire area. Light the paper to start your fire.

Build the fire, grade the coals- When kindling is ablaze, add firewood. The wood should be all the same size, as much as possible. Use hardwood or hardwood branches if available. Distribute wood evenly over fire bed. - As soon as the last flames die down leaving mostly white coals, use a stick to push the coals into a higher level at the back end and lower level at the front. This will give you the equivalent of 'Hi', 'Med' and 'Lo' cook settings. Or, level the coals to your preference.

To cook, set the grill on rocks or wetted green logs. Put food directly on grill or in cookware and prepare your meal. If cooking directly on the grill, a small spray bottle or squirt gun is handy for shooting down any rogue flames, usually caused by food drippings.As the fire diminishes, bank the coals to get the most heat from them.

After cooking, add wood for your evening campfire. Before retiring, extinguish thoroughly and soak with water. Turn rocks in on fire bed. It will be easy to reassemble the next day if required.

The first recipe is called "Bannock". Bannock is a type of flatbread usually made in a griddle, about the thickness of a scone.

Bannock is simple to make, four basic ingredients, one bowl to wash. This kids' favorite is tasty, nutritious and fun to cook on a stick over the campfire. It can also be cooked in a skillet. Bannock can be a meal in itself.

2 - 3 cups flour
1 - 2 Tbsp baking powder
1 tsp salt (optional)
2 - 3 Tbsp oil, butter or lard
2/3 cup warm water

Directions: Put everything but the water in a bowl and mix with your fingers until crumbly. Slowly add water and mix until dough feels soft. It may seem that you don't have enough water, but keep working the dough till it holds together. Don't add more water!Take a small handful and wrap around the end of a green stick, like a marshmallow roast. Knead it so it stays together. Cook over coals for about 10 - 12 minutes, rotating to cook evenly. Eat as is, or add a bit of jam or honey.

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Does anyone else remember playing this game as a child? I sure do.

Padiddle is a game played on long car rides, particularly when going on vacation or such. But it can be played on short rides into town as well.

When I used to play the game was played as follows; someone in the car spots an oncoming car with one headlight on and one off. The first person to yell, "Padiddle!" and touch the ceiling scored a point. We'd usually see how many we could get in total, but sometimes the 'winner' was whoever got 5 or 10 oints first.

I hadn't heard the term since my high school years, then this past week my car headlight blew. The next day I heard a woman on the radio talking about 'padiddles' and she had never heard the term. While camping this weekend, I was asked by the manager if I knew my car had a 'padiddle'. That's 2 references and my own car in one week. It was a sign!

According to Wikipedia, it's most popular/common on the East Coast, specifically New York and New Jersey. Makes sense to me, I grew up in NY! Apparently the rules change based on where in the country you play the game.

Here's a few of the most common rules;

Rules may include:

  1. Only headlights count. No tail lights.
  2. If the driver sees a Padiddle in the rear window, he can call it, while passengers can't. This is known as the "driver's handicap", as they have to pay attention to driving.
  3. If someone is seen driving with their indicator still on, that counts as a Padiddle.
  4. Calling a false Padiddle will incur a penalty of one point, item of clothing, etc (for aggressive games, players lose all points).
  5. If a Padiddle is called which no one else can see (eg. through a median, fence or trees), then it can be challenged within 3 seconds for dismissal. If no one challenges it, then it counts.
  6. If there is a tie at the end of the night, the rule states, that the driver, if involved, always wins. Like in blackjack, dealer always wins. Driver reserves the right to throw anyone out of the car.
  7. If you find special vehicles with one light out, (emergency vehicles, semi traliers etc), they are special and double the reward.
  8. An additional rule to Padiddle (not noted above), is that if somebody in the car sees a car with no headlights then that person shouts 'suicide' and hits the roof. the last person to shout suicide and hit the roof must remove all articles of clothing.
  9. If one doesn't want to follow the rules, they can ask to owe a certain amount of 'padiddles' or 'suicides' next time the game is played
  10. 'Permanant' Padiddles are padiddles that occur when the vehicle has been crashed at the headlight, rendering the headlight house unable to hold a replacement headlight. These padiddles can be called during daylight hours.
  11. Players may modify the word "padiddle" using the type of vehicle in question, ie. "bus-diddle" or "truck-diddle". This is only to occur with rare vehicles and must never be used for "car-diddles".
Do you remember any other childhood car games? I'll add a couple others that I remembered this week as I was traveling down "Padiddle" memory lane!

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Amateur Wedding Photographer

A couple of years ago one of my husband's best friends got married. They had a very low-key, quiet, intimate wedding. They invited about 20 of their closest friends to go camping for the weekend, renting out all available cabins at Wapiti Woods in Pennsylvania.

They had some professionals there, like the caterers and flowers and cake, but mainly had friends help them with the wedding. My husband was the DJ, another friend videotaped the event, and I was asked to do photography.

Their 2nd anniversary is coming up in July and the groom has asked me to pick a few pictures from their wedding day, do some post processing, and make a story board for him to give his bride for their anniversary.

I played around a bit tonight and these are the photos I came up with so far. What do you think?

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

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One Messy Car

I'm joining in with others at Rocks in my Dryer for another carnival. This time, it's to list all the items currently in your car.

I found the following in my Pacifica this afternoon;

  • 2 packs of Baby Wipes
  • Some napkins from McDonald's
  • An umbrella
  • Various insurance papers and police report from when my car was stolen in August 2007
  • An assortment of CD's
  • A couple of sugar packets, from McDonald's
  • Various highlighters, pens, pencils
  • A handful of change
  • A can of Lysol wipes
  • A diaper
  • Detangling spray bottle
  • Handsanitizer bottle
  • 2 car seat pillows
  • A Spongebob children's camping chair
  • 3 pairs of children's rubber boots
  • 3 pairs of children's sneakers
  • 2 fleece hoodie sweatshirts
  • 1 sweater
  • A bottle of sunscreen
  • A bottle of bug repellent
  • A sleeping bag bag, no sleeping bag, just the bag it goes in!
  • A First Aid Kit
  • Hidden Pictures puzzle book
  • A case of water
  • A candy cane ornament my 3 year old made at preschool for Christmas
  • My daughter's digital camera
  • Various pieces of garbage, including empty water bottles, gum wrappers, etc.

Works for me Wednesday-CashCrate

I've read a lot about Get Paid To (GPT) sites online since I began my search for ways to make some extra money. I read several posts and articles on GPT and decided to try complete a few surveys to familiarize myself with the Get Paid To market. I discovered that Get Paid To sites can be very lucrative if you know how to work them to get the most out of the time you've invested.

Get Paid To programs require you to sign up and get paid to complete surveys and offers. Most of the time the offers are 100% free, but the higher paying ones require a credit card to sign up for a NetFlix trial or something similar.

When you sign up you get several different options for surveys and offers you can complete with varying amounts of payout.

You can do a lot of free surveys that pay $0.50-$1.00 offers or you can participate in big ones that pay up to $40.00 and more.

You can make pretty good money by just filling out surveys and offers for a couple of hours per day without ever having a single referral!

How do Get Paid To sites work?

Companies need consumers to try and review products, services, and websites and are willing to pay money to have them do so. Most of the time you're asked to do this without any compensation, what GPT sites do is take the money companies give them for your participation, and give you back up to 75% of it!

I didn't want to waste my time with a program that wasn't proven to satisfy their members for a long period of time. I was happy to discover that CashCrate are completely legitimate and pay their members very well.

Why did I choose CashCrate?

This Get Paid To site offers a great bonus. They pay you up to 30% of all the earnings of your first level referrals and 20% of all the earnings of your second level referrals.

This is also one of the only sites that offers membership to international members. Members from the United States and other English speaking countries will have the most offers available to them however.

This is not multi-level marketing, you profit more by your referrals simply filling out surveys and completing offers than from their recruits.

CashCrate is by far the very best program I have come across. I have found it very easy to consistently make a good amount of money by simply filling out surveys and completing free offers.

How much can you make when will you get paid?

How much you make is dependent on what country your from and how much time you're willing to devote to making money. Most members have the potential to make over a thousand!

Payments are processed by the 20th of the following month for members with a minimum payout of $10. So, the money you earn in May, you'll get paid on June 20th. This is a very easy payout to achieve, I made well over $20 in the very first hours after I signed up! The payout is easily attainable within the first day of participation.

What's the best way to get started?

Once you sign-up you'll be sent a brief message on how to complete offers as well as a "fast-track" list of offers to be completed immediately because of their high payout and short time to complete.

How does the referral program work?

There are two levels to the referral program. You get paid up to 20% of the earnings of your direct referrals and 10% of THEIR referrals. Members can easily make hundreds per month just on referrals! You'll also receive a $3.00 bonus for each referral who meets the $10 minimum payout.

Do I have to refer others?

I hate programs where you get pressured into signing other people in order to be successful and make money. You can easily make money on CashCrate without ever making a single referral!

The easiest way to do this is to simply take part in the daily surveys. Get paid $0.80 each time you complete a daily survey. You can take 2 new surveys every 24 hours! Doing just this guarantees over $24 per month alone!

Another easy way to make an extra $100-$200 a month is by doing the free offers and trials.

However, if you want to share your success with others, CashCrate has one of the best referral systems out there!

CashCrate Referral Program

With CashCrate you are paid for two levels of referrals. The first level of referrals are those directly referred by you. The second level of referrals are those who sign up under your recruits. This way you get paid for whoever you get to sign up AND for whoever they get to sign up.

When you join, you start at the Bronze Level. At this level you earn 20% of what your direct referrals earn and 10% of what your second level referrals earn.

The rest of the referral program looks like this:
Bronze-0 active referrals-20% first level, 10% second level
Silver-50 active referrals-25% first level, 10% second level
Gold-150 active referrals-25% first level, 15% second level
Platinum-300 active referrals-30% first level, 15% second level
Elite-500 active referrals-30% first level, 20% second level

Don't worry! Your referrals aren't getting paid any less. This is extra money that you get paid in addition to what they get paid.

You'll also receive a $3.00 bonus for each referral who meets the $10 minimum payout. As well as a $1.00 bonus for every active referral from the United States who completes their first offer.

I compared this referral program to other GPT sites and CashCrate has the highest payouts I've seen anywhere!

If you decide to sign up for CashCrate, please use my link. This will help me on my quest to become debt free and reach my financial goals more quickly. It will also allow me to help you on your own path to success with CashCrate.

Want more Works For Me Wednesday posts? Head on over to Rocks in my Dryer for the complete list of participants!

Take Eco-Quizzes!

As I was browsing the internet for some good go-green tips I found this fun site, Eco-Quizzes!

You can take a quiz to find out if you're squeezing every mile out of your last gallon of gas. Great considering the skyrocketing of gas prices lately!

Another quiz lets you test your eco-anxiety. You can test your Eco-IQ. There are also quizzes for each part of your home, the laundry room, the kitchen, the bathroom, the bedroom,and the living room.

Take quizzes about which eco-celebrity you are, back to school, organic foods, and more!

Go Green Tip of the Week #4

Going green is a gradual process, make one tiny change each week, and you'll be an eco-savior before you know it!

Eco-Friendly Kabobs
Along with Labor Day and the Fourth of July, more Americans get a hankering for cookouts and weenie roasts on Memorial Day than any other day of the year. And whether the menu consists of burgers, bratwursts, T-bones or pork butt, Memorial Day is a big day for meat. With the livestock sector responsible for 18 percent of the world's greenhouse gas emissions, more than the combined emissions of all forms of transportation, all those beef burgers add up to extra carbon in the atmosphere.

If you're among the millions of grilling enthusiasts firing up the barbie on Monday, consider a meal with a lower eco-impact. Because beef production releases three times more greenhouse gases than the production of chicken or fish, you'll make a big dent in your Memorial Day emissions by skipping the burgers and grilling up more chicken, fish and veggies instead.

If you must have red meat, purchase locally raised meat products that support small grass farms in your region and preserve green spaces that house biodiversity. And purchase less of it. Instead of serving an eight-ounce New York strip to each person, slice up two steaks and slide them on skewers with onions, green peppers and tomatoes for a delicious and eco-conscious meal that will probably save you money too.

This week's tip comes from The Green Guide

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Sunday's Favorite Five-Recipes

Welcome to my first Favorite Five post! As I browse the internet every day, I often find new recipes to try. This week I am posting my top 5 favorite recipes for the week. I've included a main course dish, an appetizer, beverage, side dish, and of course, dessert!

One of my all time favorite appetizers is stuffed mushrooms (recipe from I usually put them on the grill during the summer, but they can easily be baked in the oven as well. Although this recipe calls for sausage, any type of meat can be used, or no meat at all. I've made stuffed mushrooms with sausage, bacon, and crab meat. Sometimes I'll go a little crazy and add bleu cheese or Parmesan cheese to the mixture as well.

I haven't always been a fan of lasagna, mainly because I don't like the ricotta cheese that most recipes call for, something about the texture. I found this recipe for lasagna at Pioneer Woman Cooks. No ricotta cheese in sight! Yay. This lasagna is every bit as delicious as PW claims. It's become one of my family's favorite meals. The best part is that PW posts step-by-step directions along with pictures, making this lasagna very easy to make. It can also be frozen and baked at a later date.

One of the best parts of summer for me is Sun Tea. I've heard some controversy over whether or not it's safe, but I'll take my chances! This recipe comes from and anyone can make it!

I love coleslaw, but I am extremely picky. It can't be too tangy, not too much dressing, no poppy seeds, etc. My favorite slaw comes from Kentucky Fried Chicken, so when I found this recipe I was ecstatic! Provided by RecipeZaar this slaw is just like the one you get at KFC.

Who doesn't love cheesecake? Kraft Foods is one of my favorite recipe sites and this month's magazine features a delicious, no bake, strawberry cheesecake. Yum, yum, yum! With seven simple ingredients and no baking required, I'm sure this Strawberry Fields No Bake Cheesecake will become a family favorite!

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Broccoli and Cauliflower Salad

This is a great summer salad for BBQs or camping. It can be made ahead and keeps for a couple of days. The ingredients can be bought at a local farmer's market for the freshest taste.

Let's get started shall we?


  • 1 cup broccoli florets
  • 1 cup cauliflower florets
  • 1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
  • 6 slices bacon
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar


  1. Place bacon in a large, deep skillet. Cook over medium high heat until evenly brown. Crumble and set aside.
  2. In a medium sized salad bowl, layer in order the broccoli, cauliflower, eggs, cheese and bacon.
  3. Prepare the dressing by whisking together the mayonnaise, sugar and vinegar. Drizzle dressing over top and serve.
Could it get any easier?

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A Perfect Light

As I was driving to pick up my hubby from the airport this evening, I noticed how beautiful everything looks at dusk. I think it was especially pretty tonight because all day it had been gloomy and dark and rainy, then around 7 pm, the sun came out and the rain stopped. All the fields and trees were wet and the evening light just made everything sparkle and shine.

I've read and heard before that the best times of day to take pictures is at dawn and dusk, I kept this in the back of my head, and have taken pictures at these times before, but tonight, it really hit me. The light is absolutely perfect, bright, but not overwhelming like mid-day lighting can be. Everything has a beautiful glow to it, not washed out like during the bright sun of day.

I'd like to share a few pictures I've taken at dusk, and make a promise to myself to do it more often.


Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

See how the light is bright, yet not harsh? The lighting is what makes these pictures so soothing and beautiful. Although, I'll admit, I may be a tad biased!

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Flowers, flowers, flowers!

I absolutely love flowers, their smell, their beauty, and taking photos of them! For Mother's Day this year I received flowers from my two oldest children, albeit they were made from construction paper, from my dear husband, and from my mother!

I took pictures of my favorite ones that my hubby gave me and wanted to share them with you all!




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Works for me Wednesday-ING Direct

I have a bad habit of spending money if I have cash. I also tend to spend whatever I have available in my checking account, because it's easy to just hand over my debit card and go on about my business. Somewhere I heard that in order to save, you have to pay yourself first. However, if I put the money in my local bank savings account, it's all too easy to transfer that money over into my checking account when the need arises. Therefore, my savings account, does not have any savings in it. Kind of defeats the purpose right?

So what I decided to do was use a great resource, ING Direct. I can set up an account, but there is no ATM or debit card to allow me quick and easy access to the money. I can have ING withdraw a pre-determined amount from my checking account, however often I set it up to do so. I can now build a savings account, that I can only access if I log into the account and withdraw the money.

I chose to open an Orange Savings Account. This type of account matched what I needed the most. It offers high interest (3% APR), no service charge, and no fees. There are no minimum required balances, which is perfect for me, because I often have to pay $5 to my local bank for not having the minimum balance in my account. There is 24 hour access to my account, no need to change banks, PLUS, the Orange Savings Account is automatically linked to the checking account used for the initial deposit. This next part however, is what really got me!

Pay Yourself First!
The Automatic Savings Plan allows you to automatically have a fixed amount of money regularly transferred to your high interest Orange Savings from your linked checking account. You will be saving your money effortlessly and will have money for a rainy day or to achieve your dreams. You can either call us or set up your Automatic Savings Plan on this website. You specify how much money you would like transferred, and how often you would like it moved. This is the simple, easy way to really grow your Orange Savings Account.

How perfect is that? Just what I had been telling myself before I heard of ING Direct! Yay!

Another great benefit is that I can refer up to 50 people to ING Direct and both of us benefit. The person who signs up and makes an initial deposit of at least $250 will get an automatic $25 deposited into their account, that's a 10% return! Can't beat that. I will get $10 for each person referred who signs up, this is potentially $500 dollars for me.

If you're interested in a referral, please contact me and provide me with your email address. Thanks!

Cross posted at To Be Debt Free

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Photography Basics: Window-light Portraits

Among the most flattering way to light people, window lit portraits require indirect sunlight. The best indirect light can be achieved using a North facing window. Remove anything distracting in the background, or hang a dark backdrop far enough behind the subject to prevent capturing its texture. Shutter speeds will likely be too long to handhold.

Every window has a sweet spot. Experiment with subject position relative to the window until light falls flatteringly on the face. Sometimes the best position is with the head slightly beyond or outsdie the window jamb, putting the window side ear in the shadow. With larger panes, the light can come from too high an angle, casting shadows from the nose, cheek, and chin. To avoid this, move the subject deeper into the room or pull down the shade to baffle the top light.

Now, build the pose. To put your subject's chest in shadow and highlight the face, place his back toward the window and shoulds angled to the glass. Then turn the head towards the light. Use a small reflector opposite the window and near the subject to fill the shadowed side of the face.

Start by capturing the full face, the try a variety of 3/4 views. For profiles, swing the shoulders parallel to the window.

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Photoshop Trick: Macro Style

I haven't done a Photoshop post in a while, although I have a ton of photographs to work with! Sorry about that. For this tutorial, I used a recent picture I took of my peony, but I used the Macro setting on my camera to focus in on the ants crawling on the buds.

Here is the original (SOOC) picture.
The first step I took was to crop the picture to really focus the attention on the ants.
Next, I used the action, "Fresh & Colorful", from Pioneer Woman's Action Set.
Then, I applied the action, "Define & Sharpen", from the same set. This helps make the photograph "crisper", so to speak.
Then I simply flattened the image. Layer>Flatten Image, or PW provides a flatten action for the lazy folks, like myself!

The last step, was another action! This time I used the "Quick Edge Burn", it helps focus the eye onto the center of the photograph by creating a darker edge, or burn, around the edges.

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