The M-Word

I think to be a mommy blogger, you are pretty much required to learn to shoot in manual on your camera.  I’m so fancy that I don’t even own a camera with a manual mode.  My parents have a bridge camera (the happy medium between a point-and-shoot and a DSLR) that they never use, so I’m borrowing it to try to learn on to decide if I want to invest the cash.

I’ve read a ton of information on the Internet about how to shoot in manual.  While I don’t want to over-simplify the intricacies, it basically comes down to 3 components that need to be in balance – ISO, shutter speed, and f-stops (aka aperture).  ISO is how much light you are letting in, shutter speed is how long your shutter is open, and f-stops deal with how much of your camera is in focus.  All of these components work together to produce your photograph, so balance is key.

But… There is one quick, easy tip that I found that has made shooting in manual so much easier for me!  Want to know the secret?

The light meter.  It’s the little line at the bottom of your camera screen that the arrow is pointing to above.

You can adjust one of the key 3, and by checking the light meter, you’ll know how to adjust the other 2!  For example, I’m usually photographing a toddler, so my priority is usually a fast shutter speed.  That moves me lower down the light meter, so I have to compensate by having more lighting or by cranking up the ISO.  Basically, to get a decent shot, you want your light meter at around 0.  The negative side will produce dark photos, while the positive side will look washed out.  

In the photo above, I took a picture of my camera screen with my cell phone.  You can see the ticker in my light meter is all the way to the negative side.  This is because I was inside, it was night time (no natural lighting), and I didn’t have my ISO turned up or my shutter speed turned down.  If I had taken a photo with my camera in that environment without adjusting my settings, the resulting photo would have been very dark.  My photos are still not “DSLR quality,” in my opinion, because it isn’t a DSLR camera, but you can get a pretty decent picture on manual mode with a bridge camera.

And, don’t forget, practice makes perfect!  I have learned a lot by just being willing to play around with the camera!

Our Home Decor for Fall

Our Fall Decor

I just wanted to do a quick post of some fall decorating that I’ve started around here.  I’m not great at decorating.  I know what I like and don’t like, but I have a hard time putting things together to create a look, so try not to tease me too much!

DSCF4690 DSCF4692

The tree in the center we keep up all year.  I have a thing for trees.  The larger pumpkin is an oil warmer that I got at my baby shower.  The little pumpkins are actually salt and pepper shakers that I got on clearance!


DSCF4697 DSCF4698

These pictures speak to my love of sparkle!  Both the little bugs are sparkly, and the cornucopias are filled with tiny gourds that I covered in glitter.

DSCF4703 DSCF4706

In the kitchen, we have a chalkboard sign and a cute little turkey…


And on the front door, a DIY wreath from my mom!

Hope that has put you in the mood for the season.  Happy Fall, Y’all!

A Steal of a Deal

This post contains affiliate links.

Y’all know I am nothing if not a work in progress over here.  I love finding resources from other bloggers to use on my journey of self-improvement.

Enter the Ultimate Homemaking Bundle – a huge collection of resources for sale for a very short time (only until April 27th, in fact).  With roughly 100 ebooks and ecourses, I know I probably won’t get to all of them.  But just the handful of resources on grocery savings would cost almost $50 if purchased separately!  Add in the books on homeschooling preschoolers (worth $35), and the bundle is a steal at $29.97!

But that’s not all that’s included – as I mentioned before, it’s a total of 98 books and courses.  There is also $300 worth of bonus offers included from some awesome companies, like Craftsy and Hope Ink.  Plus, it comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee – if you aren’t 100% happy, you can get a refund.  And it will only be available for a few more days.  This is my fourth time getting one of the Ultimate Bundles, and I’ve never been disappointed!

Check it out!

Ultimate DIY Bundle

This post contains affiliate links.

If you haven’t heard about Ultimate Bundles yet, you are really missing out!  A compilation of awesome, relevant ebooks and tons of freebies gets sold for a short period of time for an incredibly reasonable price.  The Ultimate DIY Bundle, which I personally bought last time it was on sale, is COMING BACK for a limited time only – just 48 hours!  And to get you all geared up for it’s release, this week only there is a FREE ecourse to help get your creative juices flowing – check it out here!

Some of my favorites included the ebooks on DIY homemade skincare products and the ones on photography, as well as the photo editing for beginners ecourse, and the hope ink print included as a freebie!

Jake’s First Birthday Party

Yay, only a month late, I finally am getting around to posting Jake’s birthday party pictures!  My very sweet and talented older sister took some photos for us the day of his party, in addition to being a huge help with decorating.  🙂


Welcome to our party!


Please ignore our Outback coaster…

IMG_3423 IMG_3420



We used his heirloom wagon as a “gift table.”


DIY faux chalkboard poster



Smash cake!


Birthday Party Invites

I don’t consider myself particularly creative or tech savvy, but I did design these myself. The font and the images were all free, and these were designed in Microsoft Word. I did pay to have them printed and cut at Staples. I made them to be 5.5 by 8.5 so that exactly 2 fit on a regular size piece of paper. Easy peasy, lemon squeezy.

We aren’t into “characters” because we don’t let him watch TV, so we went with a simple balloon motif and a boyish color scheme.

I am hoping I can successfully tie in some decor elements with the theme as well. I’m thinking a pennant banner and lots of balloons, and maybe incorporating his little red wagon as a “gift table” for a fun twist.

Birthday Party Planning

Like any good mom, when I started thinking about Jake’s birthday and his party, I got on Pinterest. And like many, I was overwhelmed. I mean, I have a job – who has time to plan these intricate birthday parties? But I decided to just use it for inspiration, and a vision for the perfect first birthday party was born.

I’m decent with a computer, so I decided to design the invitations myself. I just used free fonts and graphics. I’m having them printed at Staples, because we’ve used them before. I also designed some banners to match his invitations, but I will have to cut those after they’re printed.

We are planning on pretty standard decor – balloons and streamers. Our “theme” is just a color scheme and the number one. I didn’t want to go too crazy, since he won’t even remember it. I don’t love character themes, and since he doesn’t watch TV, he doesn’t know who they are anyway, so we shied away from that.

I’m having a pretty simple menu, as well. Fruit skewers, veggie tray, and some light finger foods. I don’t know if I’m going to make the cakes myself or get them from Publix – I’ve heard they give you a free smash cake with your cake order. I’ve debated about doing pull-apart cupcakes in the shape of a number 1 or doing regular cupcakes and putting them on a tiered tray.

I will post some teaser pics next week when I pick up the invites, and then I will try to post a whole party review after his party so sometime in the next few weeks.