Adding Text to Photos – Without Photoshop

So I’ve had a few people ask me how I add all the text to my photos for Bryson’s photo project. I use Photoshop Elements – which is a scaled down version of Photoshop. I got it on Ebay (new) for around $20 but it has a pretty big learning curve – at least it did for me. It’s not the most user-friendly program and I’ve had to download a bunch of free fonts, actions, and brushes over the years.

I wanted to share a new site I just found called PicMonkey. This site is cool! It has a ton of options and is really user-friendly. I played around with a photo of my son to see if I could come up with a similar look that I had previously achieved in Photoshop.

Here is the photo straight out of the camera
IMG_3214 Here are the two edits
PicMonkey-Photoshop_edited-1Honestly I was a little surprised at how close of an edit I was able to achieve. The tones are a bit different and if I had played with it more I probably could have gotten even closer but I didn’t have a ton of time. I don’t claim to be a great photoshopper, I’ve just learned things here and there and I’m probably doing a lot of things “wrong”. Someday I will take a class, but for now I just look up tutorials online and watch YouTube videos!

PicMonkey is free for a lot of the features but if you want you can pay $33 per year to have the full version. Depending on what you want to do with your photos that may be worth it to you. You can do most simple edits, add fun effect, simple touch ups (blemish remover!!), overlays, textures, frames and add text all using the free online version.

I hope this ends up being a useful tool for some of you! Happy editing!

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Green Pork Burittos

Last year we spent Christmas in Colorado with my aunt and uncle. My aunt is probably one of the most amazing cooks I’ve ever encountered (and I’m surrounded by amazing cooks!!)! So to say we ate well is an understatement! While we were there she introduced me to this wonderful recipe. I love it because it’s yummy, a crock-pot recipe, pork (i don’t cook pork often so it’s a nice change), and it makes a lot so you can freeze the left overs!  IMG_3762_edited-1

Ingredients IMG_3749_edited-1

  • 3-4 pound pork roast cut into 4 large pieces & fat trimmed
  • 2 cans cream of mushroom soup
  • 2 cans Stokes Green Pork Sauce – I couldn’t find that Safeway or Fred Meyer but did find it at Wal-Mart in the same area as the green chillies.
  • 2-3 cans of canned chicken – drained (next to the Tuna – but don’t buy tuna!!)
  • 1 regular can of chicken broth
  • 2 small cans diced green chilies (I used one large can – it was cheaper)
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 a bunch of chopped cilantro
  • 1 TBSP garlic powder
  • 2 TBSP  cumin  powder
  • 1 TBSP chili powder

Directions:

Prepare your meat by cutting it into 4 pieces and trimming the excess fat.

Chop cilantro, then mix together all ingredients in the crock-pot except the meat. Once everything is combined add your meat. I pushed it towards the bottom so that it was mostly covered in sauce.

Cook on low all day – I did mine for roughly 8 hours

Once the meat is done cooking remove your large chunks of meat from the crock-pot. At this point I removed more of the fat (it really grosses me out) and then shredded up the meat. When shredding shred some of it really fine and some of it chunkier. Put your meat back into the crock-pot. It will be really “soupy”. IMG_3752_edited-1

The assembly:

Some of this may seem a little weird but trust me it’s worth it. First put your tortilla on the plate. To add meat use a ladle or slotted spoon to get some chunks of meat but try to drain of as much of the juices as possible. Add cheese. Microwave for about 15 seconds. This will help melt the cheese and it softens the tortillas to help during the folding process.
IMG_3755_edited-1Fold all 4 sides in then flip it over! This has to be done quickly or you will have a big mess. Pour some of the juices over the burrito and add your favorite toppings! We topped ours with, sour cream, salsa, guacamole, green onions, lettuce and more cheese. Enjoy!

This makes a lot of food so left overs can be frozen and reheated for a later meal if you want!

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Why {& How} I Decided to Cloth Diaper

Cloth diapers…I’m sure the first thing that comes to mind is ewww, gross, poop, pee!! It’s really not as bad as you’re imaging! IMG_2713_edited-2Once I was pregnant with baby #2  I knew that we would have a much tighter budget so one way I knew we could save money was by using cloth diapers. At first I thought it was going to be really gross and that I wouldn’t want to do it but I figured it wouldn’t hurt to do some research.

The more research I did the more I realized that there are A LOT of different kinds of diapers and first I would have to try to figure out what kind would work with our lifestyle. I settled on “hybrid” diapers. Hybrid diapers have a shell and then some sort of insert. Often they also have a disposable insert option. I liked the idea of hybrid diapers so then I started researching all the different brands.

I decided to try out Best Bottom Diapers, Flip Diapers, and Econobum Diapers. I settled on these after watching tons of You Tube videos and reading lots of reviews online. From what learned it’s best to try a few different brands on your child. Since all babies are built different one brand may fit better then another. Overall I think it’s just good to have options!

Here is some of my stash:

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My faves are the Best Bottom ones. They are the cutest – with lots of color options and they almost never leak! Second are Flip – overall I like them but I never have him nap in them – they always leak. I think this is mainly because they don’t have any elastic on the front to keep them tight to the belly while he sleep (he is a stomach sleeper). And Econobum – I don’t use them. I don’t like them at all – good thing I got them on sale and they only cost me $20!!

After using cloth for about 5 months here is what I have learned…

  1. I didn’t CD (cloth diaper) my newborn. Bry was 7lbs 10ounces and still WAY to small for the diapers I bought him. I started him around 3 months old. You can buy special newborn diapers but I chose to skip that.
  2. I mainly CD at home. It’s just easier to use a disposable when I’m on the run. I have friends that do it but I’ve just decided that using a few disposables here and there works for me.
  3. Buy a wet bag, diaper pail liner and diaper sprayer. These are a must when CDing.
  4. Decide how often you want to do laundry – then buy enough diapers. I didn’t want to do laundry every day or every other day (like most sites recommend) so I bought more diapers.  I do CD laundry every 3-4 days – some people say this causes your diapers to stink – I haven’t had any issues with that.
  5. I don’t CD at night. My son is a heavy wetter and pees through everything. I’ve actually had to start buying him special nighttime disposable diapers (which are A-MA-ZING!)
  6. Learn about diaper stripping
  7. Some pants won’t fit a baby in a CD. Weird – yes – just thought you should know 😉
  8. Do what works for you! Even if you CD 50% of the time that is a 50% savings over disposable.

I’m happy I decided to do it – do your research – and ask around. I think you’ll be surprised at how many people actually still cloth diaper!

The Carport Is Complete!

After living in our home for just over three years we finally replaced the carport! We talked about trying to fix it, trying to doing it ourselves, and finally decided to just hire a contractor to do the job. Our wonderful friend Matt did the job for us and I’m SO glad we hired him. He did an amazing job and is probably the most clean contractor I have ever met!

In addition to the carport we had Matt build us a new gate and a new fence on the left side of the carport. It’s amazing how different it makes the house look!

IMG_3689_edited-1Before Pictures

IMG_3294IMG_3300 IMG_3301Demo Pictures

IMG_3304 IMG_3308 IMG_3309We decided to keep the existing shed because it was still in good shape and we really need the extra storage. 1950’s ramblers have little to no interior storage so this shed is a lifesaver for us!

After Pictures IMG_3689_edited-1 IMG_3690_edited-1 IMG_3692_edited-1

We will paint the everything this spring/summer. I’m so excited with how it turned out. It seems like it took forever to get this project done because we have been talking & dreaming about this for about 2 years. the actual project took less then a month from start to finish!

If your in the greater Seattle area and need a contractor let me know and I can hook you up with our friend Matt!

One thing I don’t want to forget

As a stay at home mom I feel like everyday is almost the same…wake up, feed the kids, play, clean up all the toys, feed the kids, change diapers, naps, feed the kids (yes – they are always hungry/eating!!), cook dinner, clean up the house, bedtimes…and then it all starts over again. It’s easy to get wrapped up in the schedule of the day. As Kindergarten is fast approaching for my sweet Taylin, I decided to take a few pictures at lunch time today. I don’t want to forget these moments. I want to remember these times together…I’m sure I will miss her next year!

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Baby Food Making & Reusable Baby Food Pouch

Let’s talk about making baby food…I started making baby food when my daughter Taylin was a baby. I had never thought about it but our pediatrician mentioned it and told me to check out the website wholesomebabyfood.com. I thought I’d give it a try and now I’m hooked! Now I’m making food for my 8 month old son and what he likes is totally different from what his sister liked. He tends to like the veggies more then the fruits (weird right??). Also he doesn’t have as many teeth so I’m still really pureeing things.

Today I made two different kinds of baby food so I’m going to share the step by step process I followed. I used a food processor but you can use a blender, Magic Bullet, or baby food making appliances.

Blueberries, Banana & Yogurt

Ingredients:

1 cup frozen or fresh blueberries
1 large banana
1/3 cup plain yogurtIMG_3598IMG_3599Puree everything until it’s really smooth – Once I think it’s smooth I stir it up and see if there are any chunks left. Puree again, if necessary. IMG_3601Once everything is the texture you want transfer the puree to a Ziplock bag and cut the tip off IMG_3603Fill the ice cube trays with the puree, cover with plastic wrap (to help prevent freezer burn) and put into the freezer.

One thing I want to point out is that this was really runny…more like a smoothie so I plan to mix this in with his baby cereal just to thicken it up. If you want it thicker try adding more blueberries or banana to the puree.

IMG_3645Once frozen, pop the cubes out and transfer to a freezer safe bag

For more detailed information on pureeing and baby food storage check this link out – Baby Food Storage/Puree

Carrots/Applesauce

Ingredients:

8 pealed and cut up carrots
3/4 Cup unsweetened applesauce
1/3-1/2 Cup of leftover water from boiling

IMG_3608

IMG_3611

Put carrots into a pan and cover with water. Bring to a boil then simmer on low for about 10 minutes or until tender. IMG_3613

Remove from pan with a slotted spoon – DO NOT DISCARD JUICES – we may need them later to thin out the puree. The juices have a lot of nutrientes so it’s best to use them to thin out the puree. IMG_3614I moved mine to this loaf pan to let them cool a little bit before pureeing them.
IMG_3619I pureed them with about 1/3-1/2 cup of the juices, stirred, then pureed again. Once they were the right consistency (similar to the consistency of apple sauce), I added in the apple sauce and turned it back on to mix it all together.IMG_3625

Put it in my Ziploc back, cut the tip off and filled the ice cube trays! IMG_3627 Each cube is roughly 1 ounce. My son started out doing one or two cubes but now eats roughly 4-6 cubes for lunch and 6-8 cubes for dinner (in addition to his normal bottles of formula).

So here is the other thing I wanted to mention. Baby food pouches…they are A-MA-ZING! But can be really expensive. I love them for when we are on the go so I broke down and bought some Little Green Pouches. They are reusable and are $14.99 for a 4 pack. They hold 6 ounces (a lot of the other ones on the market only hold 2-4 ounces). The reviews are great on them and I love that they are dishwasher and freezer safe. They are back ordered right now so I’ll let you guys know how I like them after they arrive in a couple of weeks!

The other awesome thing about these is that my daughter can use them next year for kindergarten in her lunch box. I plan to fill them with applesauce, smoothies and yogurt!

4_pouches_6_grande

Let me know if you have any questions about baby food making. I’d love to help you get started. I love knowing exactly what my son is eating, and it’s a lot cheaper to make your own food!

Disclaimer: I am not a nutritionist or baby food expert. This is just what I do for my son and it seems to be working well. If you have questions or concerns about introducing food to your baby please talk to your pediatrician.

Beyond Ordinary…What I Want For My Marriage

Do you ever feel like your marriage is good…but not great? I know I’ve felt that way before…having an amazing marriage is a choice. It’s about being intentional…it’s not just going to fall into your lap! I was given the opportunity to read “Beyond Ordinary” By Justin and Trisha Davis…this book has blown my mind.

978-1-4143-7227-3“Marriage is no ordinary battle. To overcome an ordinary marriage you have to fight for your spouse not with your spouse.”

They are SO open and honest, so real. They aren’t trying to say they’ve done everything in their marriage right. The book is quite the opposite. They share the bumpy road they have been on. Each of them share from their journey – his perspective and then hers. They talk about choosing to have an extraordinary marriage instead of an ordinary one.

It’s so easy to get stuck in the normal day to day life especially when life is busy with work, the kids, and church. But this book reminds you to be intentional. The book reminds you that with God you can get through some really tough times. The book reminded me that we can’t change our spouses…only God can.

If you want to read about real people who have messed up and made it out alive then pick up this book. it’s not a light, fluffy book! It will challenge you, it will make you think twice about your marriage, it will encourage you and you will be better equip to take on whatever comes your way!

Thank you Trisha & Justin for sharing your story and for listening to the Lord – your story is going to help a lot of people!

Check out their ministry it’s pretty amazing! RefineUs Marriage Ministry
Follow them on Facebook…I do RefineUs Facebook

~ Sydney Ross

Monthly Photo Project

Well I’m a bit behind with posting my photos for Bryson’s baby book..but I have been taking the pictures and making the pages. I can’t wait to get this book printed! it’s going to be awesome! He is almost 8 months old and is an extremely happy baby! He adds so much joy to our house and I’m so blessed to be his mom!

5-5 months 6-6 months 7-7 months 8-8 months

Untitled-2_edited-1I love tracking his growth and milestones this way I think I’ll try to continue his monthly photos past the first year!

January Meal Plan

This morning I posted on FB about doing a whole month worth of meal plans…and was surprised at how many people wanted to see it! I’ve never done this much at one time but I figured it wouldn’t take me that much longer to do a whole month vs. a week or two.

Here is what I think about when I plan our meals:

  • Our family favorites
  • A good assortment of chicken/beef
  • Easy meals
  • One Crock-pot meal a week (this is a goal but doesn’t always happen)
  • Making meals in mass quantity to freeze – spaghetti sauce, and chili both make huge batches so I free the extra. When I make lasagna and meatloaf I always make two so we eat one and freeze one.
  • It’s a guideline – you don’t have to do each meal on the specific day! If you buy all the ingredients you can switch it up based on what sounds good!
  • I meal plan, then shop for the ingredients for two weeks at a time (you may want to buy produce weekly though)

JanMeal

Click on the image to be linked to the Google Doc

I have included links to the recipes that are already online and will try to document/post the recipes for our other favorites in the next few months.

Printing Tips:

  • Check the box that says “no grid lines”
  • Layout – select “fit to width” and “landscape”

I color coded the calendar which is mostly for me but maybe it may help you as well!
Let me know if there is any additional info you want to know!

Happy cooking!