Health, Love & Fire: June 2016

Phoneography - Get Great Photos From Your Own Phone!

Thursday, June 30, 2016

If you've been around the blogging world for long, you quickly realize how important good photos are! You can sit around reading the hundreds of blog posts on ways to get blog worthy pictures, or you can go out and start taking them! While I'm working on a post that outlines some of the tools and tricks that help me take photos for my blog, I figured I'd give you a chance to start taking great photos of your own! Yay!

It's time for a huge giveaway, and it's all about Phoneography! What's phoneography? Well it's photography you take with your phone! Get it? Phone + photography = phoneography. I don't know who coined the term, but it makes sense and there are even some great Instagram hashtags related to it. While I always recommend investing in a DSLR, I know what it's like to not be able to afford one, and your photography doesn't have to suffer just because you can't afford a huge investment right now. If you are a blogger, shop owner, Instgrammer, or just someone who wants to take better photos with your phone-there are things you can use to improve-and I (along with some other fabulous bloggers and creatives) joined Angie from My So-Called Chaos to bring one lucky winner a big pack of them!
  June Phoneography Giveaway: Win a Phone Photography Prize Pack

June Phoneography Giveaway Sponsors

Enter the June Phoneography Giveaway

This month we're giving away a big prize pack of goodies* that will help with taking better pictures from your phone. Giveaway is open worldwide** and ends at 12AM MDT on 07/12/16. Entering below agrees to all terms and conditions within the Rafflecopter widget.
a Rafflecopter giveaway *Prize inclusions depend on availability, may not be entirely as depicted in the photo (but will be similar). **International Winners will receive a cash prize of $150 due to shipping matters.

Harper 10 Months

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Now that you're halfway to 11 months, it's about time I get around to posting your 10 month update. As with every month, I'm truly not sure where the last month went! Life flies by far too quickly with a little one. And I'm a bit in denial and a tad excited to be planning your first birthday!

I swear Harper gets more energy by the day! She's crawling everywhere, walking with her walker all over the house, and using anything and everything to pull herself up on and hang on to while you walk. The cats and dogs are on alert at all times because as soon as she sees them, she's laughing and crawling after them!

Nicknames: Harps, Lady, Harpie, Turkey

Loves: Still loving the pets and the outdoors! We all love to go on walks and try to get outside as much as possible. She also loves bath time, so it's the perfect end to our day right before bed time.

Food: Little by little she's getting more adventurous in the food department. Still trying to get her to try more and actually each it instead of just spitting it out, but it's getting better.

Sleep: Harper is still such a great sleeper. We've had a few nights where she's woken up due to her teeth bugging her, but for the most part she's a sleeper like her mama! She goes to bed around 7pm each night and wakes up between 6 and 7 the next morning. Harps still takes two naps a day, a morning and afternoon, but they vary in in length depending on the week.

Firsts: She's saying Mama all the time, although usually just as part of her babble. She's using the couch to hold on to and walk around. And she's learned how to shake her head no (i'm not sure this is a good thing or something to be excited about). We also took her first plane trip right as she turned 10 months old. She did so amazing the entire trip and was such a good traveler!

Photos From The Past Month:

Colorado Family Trip

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

A couple weeks ago, we all took some time off work (and by all, I mean Dan, My parents and I) and ventured on Harper's first big trip. We'd taken day or weekend trips to the beach, but this was her first flight and long time away from home. We'd been planning this for a while with family, and were all so excited when the day finally arrived! My mom's side of the family lives all throughout the country, which means we don't get to spend time together very often. So we decided to meet up in Colorado for a few days to meet a new grand-niece and spend some quality time together.

Harper did so amazing traveling! I'd spent a lot of time before our trip researching travel tips for traveling with kids and ideas for what to pack and either that paid off or Harper just is a great traveler! Probably a little of both! I'll share what worked well for us when traveling with a little one in an upcoming post. Getting there, we had an hour and a half flight to Salt Lake and then a forty minute flight to Grand Juction. I actually think it helped to break up the trip a bit and allow all of us to stretch our legs, even though we were rushed to catch our second flight.
Our time there was filled with lots of family time, which included lots of play time for Harper. Two of my cousins also have kids, one has two little ones who are 18 months and 3 and a half, and the other has a three week old. It was a little surreal to have my daughter playing with my cousins kids and see how much the family gatherings have shifted, but so fun at the same time.
We also got in lots of snuggle time. In an effort to keep some semblance of her schedule, we rented our own house with my parents through Air B&B which meant lots of morning snuggles and some relaxation and down time for us adults while Harper napped. 
My Aunt and Uncle who traveled from New Jersey rented a motorcycle to explore a little more of the area after we left, but an afternoon motorcycle ride for the boys (and a pedicure trip for the girls) was a must! 
This was our second trip to Colorado, and one of our favorite parts about Grand Junction are the amazing views and hikes. We took many walks throughout the neighborhood and got out for two hikes during our trip.

Our first hike was our third morning there. A few of us hiked while a few ran. I was happy to be on the hiking end of the trip, and have the chance to take in some of the gorgeous views!
Our second hike was into a valley where we hiked to some old Mica Mines. Unfortunately my Mom had taken a fall at the beginning of the hike so her and my Dad didn't hike the whole way with us, but the views were gorgeous. 
The gorgeous trails and views make me never want to leave, but the heat definitely had me ready to head home.

It was a fun few days getting to spend time with family. While we may all live miles and miles away from each other, we always enjoy our time together. It's fun to now watch our kids growing up and see how our gatherings evolve over the years. I'm so thankful Harper did so great the whole trip, and it has me even more excited for some of the summer adventures we have planned. 

What are your favorite places to visit during the summertime? 

Healthy and Easy Weeknight Meals - Slow Cooker Pork Carnitas

Monday, June 20, 2016

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and it's advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #PowerfulFusionClean #CollectiveBias 

One of the things that can be difficult being a mom who works full time and has a blog, is finding time to fit everything in your day, including making a healthy meal for your family and cleaning it all up afterwards. One of my favorite ways to make a healthy dinner during the week is by using the crock pot. I'm always experimenting with new recipes and ideas, and one of our new favorite recipes is crock pot pork carnitas. The recipe uses pork tenderloin, several spices, an onion, a hot pepper, some fresh juice from a lime and an orange, and a can of orange seltzer. You throw all of that in the crock pot for 8 hours and serve it with some rice and corn tortillas and you have a delicious, healthy and easy meal. 
What you'll need: 
4lbs Pork Tenderloin - You can use tenderloin or a roast 
1 White or Yellow Onion, Chopped
Jalapeño, Seeded and Chopped
1 Orange, Juiced 
1 Lime, Juiced 
4 Cloves Garlic, Minced
1 Tablespoon Chili Powder
1 teaspoon Cumin
1 teaspoon Oregano 
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon peper 
1 Can of Orange Seltzer
Directions: 
1. Combine all of the spices into a small bowl. Rub the spices into the outside of the pork. 
2. Place the Onion, Jalapeño,  garlic and pork into the crock pot. Juice the Orange and Lime over the pork and pour the Orange Seltzer over top. 
3. Cook on low for 8-10 hours or on high for 4-5. 
4. Once it has cooked and pulls apart easily, shred all of the meat. If there is too much juice left in the crock pot, I will sometimes drain that out. 
5. Serve with corn tortillas, rice, beans and avocado - These are just our favorite sides with this meal! 

But then comes to clean up. Even the easiest meal in my crock pot seems to leave quite a mess. NEW Palmolive® Fusion Clean helps make clean-up quick and easy. I was able to find the new scents at my local Fred Meyer. Check the store locator to find a store near you. I let the crock pot soak for about 30 minutes with some Fusion Clean™Baking Soda & Lime and warm water and the crock pot cleans up easily.  I usually let the crock pot soak once we are done with dinner while we have some play time and get Harper ready for bed. I love that I can just let it all soak while we get in some family time, and then clean up is a breeze! Plus it smells great when it's all clean. And if you aren't a huge fan of that scent, there's also Fusion Clean™ Baking Soda & Grapefruit  I know they both smell amazing, because my husband couldn't decide which one he liked better, so we have both! Because clean up is so easy, I am able to get a healthy dinner on the table and clean up afterwards, while still having time to spend with Harper after a busy work day. 
Until June 25th you can receive $0.50 off 22oz+ (includes NEW ® Fusion Clean™)

I love being able to spend my evenings after work with Dan and Harper, and coming home to a healthy meal that's almost all finished is a great feeling. My evenings can seem pretty rushed, with only an hour between when I walk in the door and when we start bedtime, and I want to be able to soak up every minute of family time I can. Having easy go-to meals like this one and an easy clean up afterwards help me enjoy my busy evenings and the little time with Harper I have! 
What are some of your favorite easy weeknight meals or cleaning tips? 

June Stitch Fix Reveal

Friday, June 17, 2016

I just received my third fix in the mail and this was my favorite so far! I started adding more items that I liked to my Pinterest board and it really helped my stylist when picking out items for this fix! I even got two different tops in my box that I had pinned, so if you're looking for something specific, I highly suggest making a Pinterest board just for your Stitch Fix items! Plus be sure to follow my board for some fun ideas for your next Stitch Fix box!

Before I share what was in my latest box, here's a little bit more about Stitch Fix if you've never heard of it before.

To start, you head to Stitch Fix and fill out a style profile. This helps your stylist figure out what size, styles and items would work best for you. It's also great if you link your Stitch Fix profile to your pinterest board so that your stylist can see exactly what kinds of pieces you'd love to see in your fix!

Once you've completed your profile, it's time to schedule your first fix. It costs $20 to schedule, and that $20 goes straight towards one of the items in your box that you decide to keep. If you end up loving every piece and decide to keep all 5 items, you get 25% off the entire box. So basically it's best if you keep at least one item, so you're not throwing away your $20.

Once your fix arrives, you try on all of the pieces and decide what to keep and what to send back. The box comes with a prepaid mailing bag that you put everything you're returning back in and just drop it off at the post office. You have three business days from the time you receive your fix to get it back to the post office. It's as easy as that!

So here's my third fix!

Salden Lattice Detail Blouse: 
I was unsure of this top when I first saw it in my box but loved it as soon as I put it on! I typically shy away from any tops that have a built in tank just because I always get it all tangled or messed up but this was so comfortable and could be dressed up or down that I have to have it!
Verdick - Kept!

Corsega Lasercut Detail Blouse:
This top was comfortable, although a little big in the chest area. It was also a really bring orangish pink and I just didn't see myself wearing it very often.
Verdict - Returned

Welton Bow Back Detail Top:
I had actually pinned this top to my stitch fix Pinterest board so I was so excited to see this in my fix! I love that my stylist had really taken some of the pieces I loved from other people's fixes and put some of them in mine! Overall I loved the details of this top and how I could see myself wearing this all summer!
Verdict - Kept!

Montgomery Cross Front Knit Top:
I had also pinned this top to one of my boards and honestly liked it better than I initially thought. I almost kept this, but couldn't see myself wearing this without a sweater over it just due to being self conscious of my stomach area and since it's summer and all, I wanted to keep items I could wear for warmed weather. This fabric was SO comfortable and made it really hard to send it back!
Verdict - Returned

Kelsie Dress:
I really liked the cut and fit of this dress, but I just couldn't get over the pattern. Had it been not as bold I would have definitely kept this. I really liked it styled with a jacket, but just couldn't see myself wearing this very often. 
Verdict - Returned

There you have it for my latest fix. Which items would you have kept? 

DIY Farmhouse Table

Thursday, June 9, 2016

My poor husband sat with me through several furniture store visits and countless pinterest and internet searches. By the time we reached the final store, we were both ready to find something we loved. Building a house comes with so many decisions and when it came to the dining table, I was just hoping I would find something quicker! I have a tendency to come up with an idea in my head of exactly what I want but then not be able to find it anywhere in real life. Does this happen to anyone else? Please tell me I'm not alone! So in my head I had created this amazing table with reclaimed wood top, white farmhouse legs and mismatched chairs. Well turns out you can actually find the table in my head, just not in our budget! 

So by the time we made it to the final furniture store and looked through hundreds of pages of options, I was frustrated. Why couldn't I find anything even close to what I was looking for. It wasn't until the sales person suggested we take a look at the stores sale section that it all started to come together. Truthfully I think She was sick of looking through books too and could tell we weren't getting any close to making a decision. Well the sale section became my new best friend. They ended up having a table top that we could purchase for just $40 because the legs had been damaged! The table even came with two extra leaves to add to each end to provide even more seating space. For $40 we decided to take it and we figured even if it didn't end up working for us, we could sell it for at least $40. 

We ended up purchasing farmhouse table legs from Osborne Wood Products, Inc. through their website and ordered chairs out of a catalog at the furniture store. Once the chairs arrived, we took one to the paint store where they color matched the white. We then used the same color to paint the farmhouse legs. And when I say we, I mean Dan. And yes, as you can tell from the photos, he had to do all of this in his parent's storage unit because we were still living in one bedroom of a friend's house waiting for our new home to be finished. That was such a fun time . . . not. 
One of the things I knew I wanted with the table was a bench. After searching several different catalogs at furniture stores and looking at tons of different stores I finally found ours and I love it! I may eventually move it to another space in the house and buy two more matching chairs so that we have additional seating when we have more people over, like for holidays. But for now, I am so happy with how it all looks! 
In the end, I really couldn't be happier with how it all turned out. While it may not have the reclaimed top I had originally hoped for or dreamed up, I love how it fits in our space. And further proves to my husband how great shopping in the sale section can be!

Can't Beat This Summer - Keys To Hosting An Awesome Summer BBQ

Thursday, June 2, 2016

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and The Coca-Cola Company. All opinions are mine alone. #ExpressUrSelfie #CollectiveBias
I'm so thankful that the sunshine seems to be here to stay and we have reached my favorite time of year, summer! Every year, we have so many plans to travel new places or do specific things in the summer, and before I know it, the summer is over. But one thing always seems to get checked off our summer bucket list, is spending time with friends BBQing, listening to music, and enjoying the time outdoors. 

Hosting BBQs are one of our favorite things to do once the weather gets nice. It's the perfect way to enjoy time with all of our friends and family in a relaxed atmosphere. Being Harper's first summer and with so many fun things to look forward to, I'm reminded of the song "Beat This Summer", because I know that this one will definitely be hard to top! 

A Fun Invite: 
Whether you're inviting them via email, Facebook or in person, I love a fun invitation! It's so easy with everyone's busy schedule to forget details to an event or an event all together. Putting together a fun invitation helps people remember when and where your BBQ is and gets them excited about the gathering! 

Food: 
You can't have a BBQ without food! I love to offer a variety of options so that people have choices, especially if they are limiting anything in their diet. It's also always fun to take people up on offers to bring something, that way it's less of a burden on you or whoever is hosting and it provides more variety for your guests. I also love to prep as much of the food before guests arrive, that way I can focus on my guests and just enjoying everyone's company once they arrive. Salads and other snacks are perfect for prepping ahead! 
Drinks:
To me, it's definitely not a party unless there's drinks, and especially some Diet Coke®. Right now is the perfect time to pick up some Coca-Cola™ for your next party with their "Share A Coke And A Song" program.  You can find them, plus all your other BBQ snacks at Safeway, which is where I picked up everything for our gathering. With the summer already off to a hot start here in Oregon, making sure you have cold drinks for your guests is a must. And let's be honest, I'm never far away from a Diet Coke®.
Enter to win the Share a Coke Sweepstakes at cokeplaytowin.com/shareacokesweepstakes for  a chance to win tickets to the American Music Awards® and more.

1. Snap a selfie with your favorite lyrics on a Share a Coke® bottle or can*
2. Upload your selfie to Twitter or Instagram with the hashtag #ShareaCokeSweepstakes
3. Enter up to 12 times to increase your chances of winning a trip for 2 to the2016 American Music Awards®, along with hundreds of other great prizes! Including: wireless headphones, wireless speakers, a 1 year Premium Music App Membership or a $50 Music Gift Card
Music: 
If you walk into our home almost any time of day, you can usually find music on, unless we're sleeping I suppose. Whether it's streaming on our phones, on the radio or playing from our tv music channels, we love to listen to music in our home. Music not only sets the mood for the party but really enhances the atmosphere! 

Games: 
Our summer gatherings have changed quite a bit the last few years with many of our friends, including us having kids. Now our BBQs are much more kid focused and always include something fun to keep them entertained. Whether it's a kiddie pool, bubble maker, or sports equipment all over the yard, I always like to make sure there are fun things for the kids to participate in while the parents talk and hang out. And if I'm being honest, the adults enjoy the kiddie pool and bubbles too! 
And last but not least, of course good company! 

A BBQ wouldn't be much fun without good friends to enjoy it with. Summer seems to provide a time for all of us to clear our busy schedules and spend some time catching up and enjoying the outdoors.
This will be our daughter Harper's first summer to play in the pool, enjoy time outside and get to be a part of all of our BBQs and get-togethers. I'm excited to prepare to host a fun summer BBQ for friends to kick off the summer and create memories that make us feel like we can't "Beat This Summer".

What's your favorite way to spend time with friends during the summer? Any great recipes or tips you follow when planning a BBQ? 
Don't forget to enter to win the Share a Coke Sweepstakes at http://cbi.as/3gc39 or  a chance to win tickets to the American Music Awards® and more.