Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Doin’ The Science, a Famous Mouse, ROAR! & Laundry Gremlins

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So, I put up a post about granola and a tidbit about changes to come and then disappear for two months.  I mean it was good granola, but still.  For shame.

Well, I’m here to finally update you on what’s going on with us and everything that’s happened over the last few months.  First of all, the biggest change is that I’m going back to work again. 

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I know, I know.  Didn’t I write a similar post a year or so ago?  Yes.  Yes I did.  However, this time it’s a much better deal and I’m crossing my fingers that it all works out.  The best thing is that this job is WAY closer to home so the commute is totally manageable. I’ve already started there part time while our new lab (remember I’m a mad scientist by trade) is being finished up.  It’s shiny and new and I’m really excited about this new adventure.  Doin’ the science…it’s what I love.

Well, then while things are changing why not add a little fun to the mix?? 

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SURPRISE kiddos…we’re going to Disney World!!!

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(Me and B on the one and only Dumbo…there’s actually two now)

And when I say surprise, I mean we woke them up at 3am and said, “SURPRISE!”  We were at the Magic Kingdom by lunch that day.  It was so fun and the kids are at such a great age to enjoy all things Mickey.  The last time we went, Braden was not quite a year old and Lanham was 4.  This time they were almost 6 and 10.  Tons of fun, exhausting, but totally memorable and we all loved it.  I might do a Disney post soon with more pics.

One other BIG exciting thing I’ve been working on lately is shooting for the Listen To Your Mother – Chicago show

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(The cast showing some claws during our group photo shoot. ROAR!)

Some very cool local bloggy friends (Tracey & Melisa) just happen to be the producers of this fab show.  They graciously asked me to shoot both the rehearsals and the show and it’s just been so much fun! 

If you don’t know about LTYM, then you have to check out their site and see your local show if possible.  You won’t regret it.  All things motherhood from so many perspectives.  Laughs and tears.  Wonderful.  Just wonderful.  And I get to capture it all.  A very fun challenge.  These ladies are awesome!

In that same line, I also purchased a new camera and lens recently.  Adding to my camera bag.  Fun stuff.  More on that some other day too, but loving the new body.  Perverted camera talk. 

So, let’s see…new job.  House of Mouse.  LTYM shoot.

Oh, yes…spiders.  AKA Laundry Gremlins.

I detest spiders.  There’s not much more to say, I just dislike them VERY much.  I know that they are a n’th of my size.  I know they are good for the environment.  I know I know I know.

I. Don’t. Care.  They creep me out and I know I’m not alone in this.  ahem.  Point?

Derek had to travel last week.  With the new job starting, I was still catching up from our recent trip.  While I’m sorting laundry I happen upon this sucker…

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Excuse the phone pic.  I just had to have proof of this critter since Derek seems to think I make up the spiders that I find in our house.  Like a fish story…only with spiders.  It was THIS big I swear.  At the top of the photo you can see how big it is compared my my laundry basket.  EW!

Our text convo went something like this…

Me:  Now do you believe me?  I can’t go back into the laundry room anymore.

Derek:  Puhleaze.  I will spray tomorrow if I get home too late tonight.

Me.  Please my ***!  This thing is HUGE and has totally ruined laundry day.  I found it and sprayed it. 

Derek:  Did it come after you??  Are you ok??  <sarcasm>

Me:  I’m shaking.  So is B.  I’m calling the Orkin man.

Derek:  I will spray the whole house TODAY!

Me:  Not doing laundry. 

Derek:  ONE spider and you already killed it!

Me:  I’m not certain its dead, but it crawled into the laundry piles so I can’t touch the clothes. 

A few moments later, I sent him this…

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I added the quarter for dramatic effect.

Me:  Dead but I’m still not doing laundry.

Silence on his end. 

Oh…Laundry gremlins?  Welll, there was this crazy flooding in our area. Like two days off of school flooding. Rain days.  Not snow days.  Weird.  Basically our district was so flooded that buses weren’t able to get around so they shut us down for a few days. Several neighbors got water in their basements. One particular friend is now claiming that creepy basement zombies have taken over her basement.  To make her feel better, I texted her the above spider pics.  She’s certain they are relatives of the basement zombies.  Laundry gremlins.  They torture me and ruin my day.  Definitely gremlin like behavior. 

With that, I hope to keep in better touch with you all through life’s constant changes.  When I’m not Doin’ the Science, jet setting (hahahaha), playing photog or battling gremlins.

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Sunday, February 24, 2013

Simply Suzanne Granola Review

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Hi everyone!  I’m here with a long overdue post about a product I was luckily enough to try recently.  As you know, my cooking and eating habits for myself and my family vary between homey and rich to healthy and all natural.  Basically, we love our fruits, veggies and whole grains, but indulging in homemade cheesecake is ok once in a while too.

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So, I was very pleased to have the Simply Suzanne granola company contact me about trying a few of their products.  Simply Suzanne is an all natural food company that specializes in sweet and savory granola and trail mixes.

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All of their products are certified vegan and Kosher. Simply Suzanne is a Detroit, Michigan company too…love my Midwestern peeps!!

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First up, I tried the Apple Rosemary Pecan Trail Mix

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Now, I have to admit, the idea of rosemary in my granola was a little strange to me.  However, its very subtle and I only tasted the rosemary in about every other bite.  The dried apples are tasty too, more chewy than the usual crispy dried apples.  I’m a nut fan, so I would have enjoyed a few more pecans and a little less raisins, but that’s just personal taste.  Love the short and simple ingredient list of these products…

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Overall, a healthy and delicious snack.  Great for munching right out of the bag.

Next, I tried the Original Sweet & Savory Granola

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This granola is made in small batches and has a peanuty flavor with a hint of cinnamon.  Again, a really short list of great ingredients.  LOVE!

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It was great for topping my homemade yogurt and just eating straight out of the bag.  However, what I really liked was the recipe that Simple Suzanne gave to me for Goat Cheese Granola balls. 

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Basically, I took the granola and put it into a large plastic baggie and crushed it with my rolling pin.  Then, I took small pieces of goat cheese and rolled them into balls.  After that, I rolled them in the crushed granola.  These were a hit a recent WOWN party served with pear slices.  Instead of leaving them in ball shapes, I pressed them into little disks for easier eating.  Yum!

Final verdict?  Well, this definitely is a new take on granola flavor for me and I actually enjoyed the change.  Most granolas that I like are more on the sweet side.  I would recommend these to anyone looking for a healthy treat that is both good for you and tasty.   It’s especially suited to those that are conscious of natural and simple ingredients.  Overall, I would try Simply Susanne again and I’d love to check out the Cranberry Pepita and Dark Chocolate trail mix.

Currently, Simply Suzanne products can be found in Chicago at Kroger stores, several Whole Foods Chicago locations, Arista Foods, as well as Angelo Caputo’s.  They are also in Ohio at Kroger stores and both Jungle Jim’s locations.  I recently found these tasty treats at my local Meijer, another Midwestern grocery chain. 

So, what are your favorite healthy snacks?  Have you ever tried granola that contains savory ingredients?  I’d love to hear your feedback.

Also, stay tuned…I have some very important life changes to announce very soon!

Disclosure: Simply Suzanne sent me products to try and review.  All thoughts and opinions are 100% my own.

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Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Here’s a little story about Breaking Copyright Laws

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Readers, I’ve always loved you.  Your comments make me laugh, your feedback is always helpful and now you’re even protecting me from content theft.  You see, I was contacted by a very sweet reader not too long ago saying that she was pretty sure an image from my most popular post was being used on someone’s online boutique shop.  Not only was it being used there, but also on their corresponding Facebook page!!

I checked it out and sure enough, there was this image…

It’s definitely low resolution and probably copied and pasted from Pinterest.

Now, this tutorial is very very popular and I know it has been pinned thousands of times on Pinterest.  However, I never thought that this would lead to someone using my image to promote a business.  My image was being used to sell items on someone else’s “boutique” website.  Now, doesn’t that seem strange to post pictures of items for sale that you didn’t even make?  And I’m not selling them either, so how exactly do you plan on selling necklaces that my friends and neighbors now wear?  Just wondering.  <end rant>

My first step was to contact the website and tell them to remove my image immediately.  I informed them that this was breaking copyright law.  The person running the website wrote me back and in a very snippy tone, informed ME that she was an attorney.  She said that the images she used were not copyright protected since they did not have watermarking and there wasn’t a copyright statement on my blog.  There was a whole lot more, but I don’t want to get into it.  Basically, she had the nerve to get defensive with me about using my images without my permission.  Grrrrr.

Then I thought…could she be right?  Did I incorrectly believe all of this time that my blog was protected under copyright law?  That my words, my tutorials and my images were my own and no one else to use?

Well, my husband, also an attorney,  and I spent a great deal of time researching copyright law and how it pertains to bloggers.  At first, I was infuriated with my stupidity.  But then here is what we found:

  • Today, almost all things are copyrighted the moment they are written or images are uploaded to your blog
  • These written words and images are protected by copyright law with or WITHOUT a copyright notice on your blog
  • You can register for a copyright, but it is not necessary.  You are still copyright protected without registration. 
  • Ideas, names and slogans can not be copyrighted
  • Fair Use : a very fuzzy and debatable area of copyright law.  Basically, you can use someone else’s material without permission if you want to provide criticism, make a comment, report it as news or for teaching and research purposes.  However, fair use is controversial and therefore your best bet is to ALWAYS ask permission.
  • Blogger to Blogger courtesy:  Always link back to someone that inspires you.  I’m constantly inspired by other bloggers on Pinterest.  Then, I create something similar and link back to them.  I think it’s the best form of flattery in the blogging world. 

Important links:

U.S. Copyright Law

U.S. Copyright Law FAQ’s

My research also produced some sad stories from other DIY bloggers.  This one from  Addicted 2 Decorating is, as she puts it, infuriating!  You should also check out House of Hepworths experience too.  She has some great ideas for protecting your blog.

So, after this experience and research, I have decided to add a copyright notice to my blog and a terms of use blurb.  Although, under the law, these things are not necessary, they possibly deter those that want to steal your images and words.  Also, I have added more watermarking to my images as well.  That way they will give some credit back to me if/when they are pinned on Pinterest. 

I hope this post helps bring some much needed copyright information to all of you and doesn’t come off as some mean rant.  Until this happened to me, I certainly didn’t know any of the details.  I just wrongly assumed that I was protected and that most people respect the work of others.  Blogging is certainly a fun outlet for me and not a job.  However, I do spend a good amount of time on each post and editing images and therefore when someone tries to use my work without permission, I get beyond frustrated. 

Feel free to comment on any issues you have had with copyright law.  I would love to become more knowledgeable about the law and how it effects bloggers. 

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Thursday, January 24, 2013

Super Bowl Snack Off :: Slow Cooker BBQ Spare Ribs

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Super Bowl Sunday is just around the corner and that means food and fun!  Even though da-Bears won’t be playing this year, I’m sure we’ll be watching football somewhere that weekend.  I can almost guarantee it. 

What luck to be contacted by Wafair to participate in their Super Bowl Snack Off.  The rules?  Basically, come up with a great game day recipe to use in this awesome new Hamilton Beach Stay and Go slow cooker

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First of all, this baby has a lot of fun bells and whistles that my other slow cooker is lacking.  This is truly a slow cooker for parties and tailgating.

It has this snapping lid/rubber seal feature…

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to keep spills at bay.  And then these fold down handles…

Slow Cooker Ribs

….which make it perfect east storing too!

The slow cooker is already a much loved appliance in our house (see bottom of post for more recipes).  We even use it for parties to keep things warm when they come off the grill, like hot dogs.  For this Super Bowl Snack Off challenge, I was excited to try out a new recipe .  Something new to us, something yummy, something American and football.  RIBS!  Yep, ribs in a slow cooker.  Now, I’m sure that there are some grilling enthusiasts out there just balking at this idea, but it’s Illinois and it’s cold.  So why not find a way to make ribs indoors?

Now, I have to admit this was my first attempt at any sort of rib dish.  It always seemed so daunting…we watched a few too many episodes of Pitmasters.  Anyway, fear be gone!  This recipe is simple.  Plus, you still get that BBQ flavor and fall off the bone texture you want with ribs.  

First, you season your ribs the night before you want to cook them with this… 

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I personally love the McCormick’s Grill Mates Barbeque seasoning.  It has a smokey sweet flavor and I often use it on chicken and pork for the grill.  However, it also works great as a rub and gives an added flavor on top of the usual barbeque sauce.  If you do not have this, do not worry too much about it.  You could make your own rub or skip this step completely. 

So, I season, then cover the ribs overnight in the refrigerator.  The next morning, I broil them for 5 minutes or so on each side using the same baking sheet that I had them on overnight.

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Then you just put them in the slow cooker and cover them in a mixture of honey, barbeque sauce and a little more of the barbeque seasoning.

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After 8 hours on low you’ll have this…

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Remove them from the slow cooker…

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Brush on some more sauce…

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And it’s GAME DAY food time!

Slow Cooker BBQ Spare Ribs

  • 5 lbs pork spare ribs
  • McCormick’s BBQ seasoning for rub, plus 1 Tablespoon for sauce ***see note below
  • 1 1/2 cups barbeque sauce (I used Sweet Baby Rays)
  • 1/2 cup honey

Cut ribs in half or thirds so that they will fit in a slow cooker. Place ribs on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper or foil for easier clean up. Sprinkle both sides ribs with BBQ seasoning or other seasoning of your choice. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. Remove plastic wrap and preheat broiler. Broil ribs for 5 minutes, then flip and broil the other side for 5 minutes more. Meanwhile, mix together barbeque sauce, honey and barbeque seasoning. Move ribs to slow cooker. Pour all but about 1/4 cup of the sauce mixture over the ribs and use tongs to get flip them and get them covered on all sides. Cook on low for 8 hours or high for 3 to 4 hours. Transfer ribs to a plate.  Discard liquid in slow cooker.  Warm up reserved sauce and then brush onto cooked ribs. Serve and enjoy!

This recipe is easily adaptable to all kinds of ribs and sauces, so have fun playing with it a little.  I want to try some Korean style short ribs next.

Hope you all have a fun and safe Super Bowl Sunday!  Thanks to Wayfair for including me in this challenge!

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More slow cooker recipes:

 

Disclosure:  Wayfair sent a Hamilton Beach Stay or Go slow cooker for my review and a gift card to cover my recipe ingredients. All thoughts and opinions are 100% my own.

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Saturday, January 19, 2013

Sabby’s Household Tips & Tricks :: Laundry

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I’ve never claimed to be an expert at this homemaking gig.  Nope.  I’m a constant student in this “field” and learn new things all the time.  From keeping a clean and organized home to meal planning and couponing, I’ve come a long way since the beginning of my stay at home mom journey.    Blogging and blog reading have been enormously helpful along with the Pinterest era.  So, I’ve decided that it might be helpful to share some of my favorite household tips and tricks with you guys.

First up in this new series:

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Laundry.  It happens.  And with a family of four that includes two boys who are in sports and two parents that frequent the gym, it happens A LOT!  Over the years I’ve come up with some strategies that work for our family and today I’d like to share them with you.  Why?  Well, that’s how we all learn great new ideas.  Plus, after talking with some of my neighborhood girlfriends, I realize that we all tackle laundry SO differently.  Again, this is just what works for us.

So what’s the key to my plan of attack on laundry???

Laundry Day!

Yes, I actually have just one day during the week that I do all of our laundry for the most part.  Shocking?  It is for a lot of my girlfriends and for families larger than ours, maybe this just wouldn’t work at all.  However, let me explain why this works before totally writing off this idea.

First of all, I HATE having clothes scattered in all different stages of laundry.  Some in the dryer, some in the washer, some ready to be put away etc.  By dedicating one day to be laundry day I don’t ever have that problem anymore.  It all gets done and put away in one day.  Sounds daunting?  Believe me, its not!  In fact, it keeps us way more organized and tidy.

How does this happen?  First, I gather all of the laundry, including bed sheets and bathroom towels, and quickly get a load started.  While that first load is already washing, I finish sorting my loads out into piles on the laundry room floor or in my empty baskets. 

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Then, I just continue to tackle it all throughout the day.  Usually I pick a day at the beginning of the week, lately its been Mondays.  Since I know I’ll be home most of the day, I plan a nice dinner and usually get some big cleaning chores out of the way too.  By dinner time, I have all of my laundry done for the week, sorted into baskets for each bedroom. 

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Yes, I’m sure you haven’t seen a forest green laundry basket since the 90’s, but the thing is unbreakable and still works.  It was a high school graduation gift!  Honest.  Class of 1995!

Moving on…The kids get home from school and take their laundry up to their rooms to put it all away.

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They bring the empty baskets back downstairs and we’re done!  Now, I admit we have our off weeks.  Sometimes D and I are busy and I our basket of clean clothes might sit in our room for a few days untouched.  Sometimes, we just HAVE to have a special pair of perfectly fitting jeans that make our rears looks pounds lighter cleaned on a Friday.  No biggie!  Because for the most part, Laundry Day works great for us and maybe it can work for you too!

Helpful hints:

  • You must have separate hampers in each room = 3 hampers.  I bought these easy to carry mesh ones from Walmart for the boys’ and a rattan one for us.  All of them have handles.  They keep the dirty clothes off the floor and in an easy to see and easy to use hamper.  No excuses!
  • You need separate baskets for folding for each room to make putting clothes away a snap.
  • While folding, I stack clothes according to how they will be put away, ie. stacks of underwear, paired socks, stacks of jeans.  This makes it really easy for my youngest in particular.  He just takes his stack of whatever and puts it away.  If he had it all mixed together he might just freak.  He’s SO my child. 
  • Loads – yes I separate my stuff.  Shoot me.  Jeans don’t need to wrestle with my pretty undies, m’kay? 
  • Buying detergent you love in bulk.  I’ve tried several different types of detergents and have had some major disappointments.  Some clothes literally coming out of the wash cycle still smelling of sweat. YUCK!  So, when I see a good sale and have coupons, I stock up as much as I can.  This saves money and we always have detergent handy.
  • Skipping softener…sometimes.  I’ve been kind of weaning myself off of softener lately.  I seem to use it when I wash our living room blankets just to freshen them up a bit.  However, I really don’t ever use it on clothes anymore.  Money saver!
  • Get the kids involved!  I’ve slowly been getting my kids involved in the laundry process, but a lot of it happens while they’re at school.  If they are around, I set them to tasks like sock sorting.

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He looks a little too eager here I know.  It’s not always the case for sure, but they can and do help. 

So, what about you guys?  How do the tackle the dreaded mounds of laundry?  I’d LOVE to hear from you all and get even more ideas in my routine.  Please feel free to share in the comments!

Also, if you like my laundry room be sure to check out my laundry room redo!

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Monday, January 14, 2013

All You Need Is Love…

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Hey everyone! Can you believe we’re almost to Valentine’s Day?  We’re getting some pretty chilly weather here today so I thought I’d share a little printable with you all to warm you up!

I’m  HUGE Beatles fan and this is one of my favorite songs.  I printed the image out on 8.5x11 card stock and put it in my “seasonal” 8x10 frame. 

You can download this PDF file HERE or click the image above. 

Click HERE, HERE or HERE to check out more of my seasonal frame ideas.

Happy Valentine’s Day a little early!

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Tuesday, January 8, 2013

The 2nd Annual WOWN Holiday Photo Shoot!

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For those of you that are new to my blog, I’m blessed to hang out with some wonderful ladies in my neighborhood.  Somewhere along the way we became known as the WOW group, as in the “Women of W******”, the name of our neighborhood.  Then we added someone from outside of the hood.  We even had a fun shower for her bambino.  Her name starts with an N…hence WOWN. Genius, I know, but it stuck and the rest is history.

Anywho, last year we had such a fun time doing mini photo shoots for Christmas with all of their families, that we just had to do it again.

Here’s neighbor Katie’s beautiful gals…

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They’ve been my little muses since the beginning and it such a nice change from shooting two boys all the time.  I’m sure my boys feel the same way actually. 

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With the exception of the background color, I pretty much used the same set up as last year.  I wasn’t certain about the black backdrop, but boy did it turn out great!  The kids really popped and it was such a warm cozy look. 

Here are some more of my favorites…

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And if I had to pick a favorite…

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There is just something about the above picture that is perfect to me.  The red with the black background and her perfect eyes.  I don’t know, but if I had to pick just one that would be it. 

Luckily I don’t have to pick just one, because there are SO many great ones.  Like this…

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She’s a daughter of a gym friend of mine that’s outside the WOWN group.  We had planned on outdoor photos, but the weather just didn’t work for us this fall.  So, we added their family to the Christmas shoot and it all worked out really well.  Not going to lie, I love these pictures with the missing teeth.  Those are moments that every parent/kid should have immortalized.

Her parents are pretty cute too don’t you think?

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Oh and we added yet another family this year too!  Katie’s sister was able to come to town with her three little ones.  Her daughter is just so sweet…

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This post is getting a little picture heavy so if you’re interested in seeing more images from this shoot, check out my Sabby In Suburbia Facebook page!

Thanks to all my lovely WOWN friends and the “B” Family for letting me capture your families this holiday season!  It’s always an honor and so much fun!

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