Photography Study: Antique Gas & Steam Engine Museum

Posted by on May 30, 2012 | 10 comments

I think I’m starting a new series!  I am so in love with photography it’s not even funny.  After attending my photography class a few weeks ago I am taking so many more photos, and even loving my mistakes, because now I understand what I’m doing wrong.  So every once in a while I’m just going to post photos I’ve taken.  Sometimes, like today, they’ll be grouped and themed, while others will just be a photo dump, of sorts.  This series is going to be for personal reasons just as much as a blogging thing.  I want to keep track of my progress, and this will be an easy, visual way for me to see how, when and where I improve.  Huzzah!

These photos were all taken in the same place.  I went up with my family to check out the Antique Gas & Steam Engine Museum as a potential location for a festival in the early fall.  I had never even heard of this place, but I was instantly happy that I brought my camera because it was rich with fun things to take pictures of, and it was a beautiful day.

This place is unlike any other place I’ve been in San Diego.  It’s not really even in San Diego- it’s in Vista, which is way north county.  It felt very rural when we got there, and it was a bit like stepping back in time.  We even spoke to a man who worked there who was literally bleeding from an engine repair injury while he spoke to us.   No big thing- just bleeding.

I was also disappointed- my grandpa was a steam engine connoisseur and would have loved this place.  He visited me several times before he left us in 2004, and I wish I had known about this lovely, quirky place to bring him.

I also learned a valuable lesson:  check your settings!  I forgot that the evening before I had been at Le Diner à San Diego, and my friend, Brent, had used my camera for a few shots.  When I started taking photos at the museum I was wondering why they didn’t look the way I thought they would.  Then I realized that Brent had put my lens in manual focus, and I also hadn’t adjusted my ISO for daylight. Whoops!  Once I did that, I was off and running.  Lesson learned!

Check me out- I’m doin’ good, right?  :-)


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Teacher Appreciation Week

Posted by on May 16, 2012 | 5 comments

I love a good Teacher Appreciation Week.  When I was a teacher this week couldn’t come at a better time; it was usually during a crazy, hectic spring-is-insane kind of week, and the parents at our school always did an amazing job of making us feel loved and valued.  I learned a lot of great ideas as a teacher, and now that I am a parent with kids in preschool (and soon-to-be kindergarten) I was excited to shower the teachers at our preschool with some TLC.  Hopefully my ideas will give you some inspiration, too.

My kids go to a local preschool that has a very laid-back feel.  I love it.  There isn’t a lot of fuss about anything- the kids are there to be loved and to learn to love school.  The teachers love what they do.  Can’t ask for much more than that!

In years past, I’ve done a “Thank You Party” for the teachers that taught my kids.  It was really fun, but the longer they are at this school, the more teachers they come into contact with, and hosting an entire staff at my house… well, I do love a good party, but I’m not quite ready for that.  So this year, now that I’m not pregnant or teaching, I decided this is the year to do a real Teacher Appreciation Week.  Here’s what I did to prepare and put it into action!



I emailed our preschool director to get the message out, and she forwarded my email to all of the parents at our school.  I requested that all of the parents let me know if they wanted to help out, contribute money, or whatever was easiest.  I also let everyone know that participation was not required, as I didn’t want to pressure anyone into doing something when they had already planned their own thing.  Very quickly we had a plan, which you’ll see below.

Then I gave a questionnaire to all of the teachers to find out what they like to eat, do, etc.  I thought this would help the parent get to know the teachers and also get everyone excited about the week.  When the teachers filled these out, I compiled them into a simple Word document and emailed it out to the parents to help them with ideas for personal gifts, etc.  Here’s the questionnaire- feel free to download it!  Just click and “save as.”

I also put out sign-up sheets for parents to bring in treats on two days.  One day is for healthy snacks and the other is sweet treats- a little bit of both sides of the spectrum.  To help with costs for decorations and gifts for the directors and cook at the school, I also put out a collection envelope.  This was very helpful- it gave me a budget to work with, and any remaining money can be put towards a gift card to a book store or a place like Lakeshore Learning.  This also allowed super-busy families to contribute and help out without stressing out.


The Thursday before Teacher Appreciation Week I passed out this sheet to all of the teachers so that they could know what they had to look forward to for the week.  It’s always fun to know what’s going on and be informed, right?!



Once the plan is in place everything sort of takes care of itself.   The only really involved thing was this past Monday.  Everyone brought in flowers when they dropped off their kids, and we needed to get them into vases so that each room had fresh flowers to enjoy for the week.

I had help from two lovely moms, and another decorated vases for us- they are perfect!  I showed up with an empty bucket and some trimmers for trimming stems.  It took us about an hour to get the flowers removed from their wrappers, separated into 10 bouquets, and trimmed to fit the vases.  I was very thankful for the help- doing it by myself would have taken a few hours.  I also downloaded this adorable bunting from Urban Bliss- I think it was intended to be used as flash cards, but I wanted something cute to hang, so I just punched holes and used some ribbon.  It looks super cute.  I also sewed together some streamers thanks to the amazing Dana.  I made these for Jack’s Party and they will become a staple in our house, for sure.



Parents bring in treats.  I was planning on setting them out, but my son, Jack, was sick, so an awesome mom pitched in and set stuff out for me so I didn’t contaminate the food. :)  Thanks, Jessica!


I called our local Jamba Juice and got a great deal on 20 smoothies.  They even gave us a nice discount since we were a) ordering a boat-load of smoothies, and b) it was for amazing teachers.  Score!


Parents bring in treats.  Easy!


I pick up bagels and cream cheese to bring in, and parents bring in their own gifts.  I also bring in gifts for the director and cook of the school.  Hooray for Teacher Appreciation Week!

What do you do during this week for your kids’ teachers?  There’s tons of inspiration on Pinterest, but I’d love to hear what you have done, too!

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{My} Top 10 Reasons for Changing

Posted by on May 3, 2012 | 5 comments



I need to record exactly why I’m doing this so that when it gets…

  • tough
  • challenging
  • annoying
  • and all of the above

I can refer to a list to remind myself why the heck I’m working so hard.  So here goes nothin’:


My Top 10 Reasons for Changing My Eating Habits &

Getting in {KickAss} Shape


10:  So I won’t dread getting on the scale at the doctor anymore (or look away)

This started when I was pregnant with my first.  When the scale crossed 200 I thought, “Holy Jesus, save me!”  As someone who had floated through life easily weighing 120-140, crossing the 200 mark was a harsh wake up.  Yes, I was carrying life, but still.  Ever since then I’ve been in denial about my weight, for whatever reason.  It’s time to just make that number behave!

9:  So I can be proud of myself for doing something challenging

I am really good at getting a project started.  I would receive an A+ for stocking my crafting supplies.  But how many of my projects have I completed?  It takes me forever.  I want to finish this.  Even though I know it will never really be finished, because as we get older we have to work harder- I want to achieve my goal, and then sustain it. Boo yah.

8:  So I can like myself in photos

There’s nothing worse than seeing yourself from any angle that isn’t totally complimentary.  I want to rock full-length photo shots and maybe even do a boudoir photo shoot- THAT would be awesome.

7:  So I can wear some pretty awesome clothes that don’t quite fit right now

I have a small collection of clothes that I LOVE.  Hopefully they will still be relatively in style when they fit again.  I did get rid of a lot of clothes that were too small and out of style, but this little collection- I miss it.  Cute skirts, fun tops- I shall see them again.

6:  So I can look at myself passing in any mirror and say, ‘Check THAT shit out” instead of averting my eyes

I don’t want to walk past a mirror and not love what I see.  We all deserve that.

5:  So I can be confident both inside and out

My confidence has taken a beating in the last year.  “Did I make the right choice- leaving teaching and trying this new adventure?”  “Can I be successful at something besides what I’ve done for the last 12 years?”  It’s easy to lose confidence.  I think knowing I look totally rad would be a nice boost.

4:  So I can shop and not be limited by what looks good on my body type

I hate looking at awesome clothes and thinking, “Nope.  Wouldn’t look good on these hips.”  Or, “Me?  In that?  Nah.”

3:  So I can wear slinky PJs and feel good about it

My husband has been subjected to some pretty heinous sweat pants.  He deserves to see me in something pretty.

2:  For me

I deserve to be healthy, happy, and to live a life that is free of guilt for simple choices like eating and physical fitness.  I deserve health.  We all do.  But we have to maintain it for ourselves- no one else can.  That’s a big lesson I’m learning right now- I am the one in charge of my current condition.  Nobody else.  So if I’m mad, I have to be mad at me.  Nobody else.

1:  For my kids

This is sort of a no-brainer, but really…  I want to be a cool, fun, energetic mother.  I want to play with them, chase them, toss them in the air and tickle them, and keep up with them without killing myself.  I want them to remember me as an active part of their childhood, not just watching from the sidelines.

I want them to be active, too. If I’m sedentary I’m setting the wrong example.

I knew I made the right choice when Anna came out the other day as I was doing a workout video.  As I was attempting some crunches she came in the room.

“What are you doing, Mommy?”

“I’m exercising, Sweet Pea.”


Ah, yes.  Why.

“To be a healthy mommy.”

“Oh.  That’s good!”



What are your reasons for living a healthy life?  Give me even more motivation!

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Mother’s Day Project & San Diego MNO!

Posted by on Apr 24, 2012 | 15 comments

Are you ready to clean up your Pinterest Boards?  Thursday is Clean Up Your Pinterest Boards Day!  Join us and make sure your pins are legit!  Can’t wait!

Are you ready for Mother’s Day?  I am!  I love having a day to celebrate the fact that I’m a MOM!  I can’t believe I’m 36 and have three beautiful kids.  Before I get into the details of my post, I want to share an event I’ll be attending and am SO EXCITED about!    I’m also on the committee promoting it because I am so thrilled that this group exists for the sole purpose of giving MOMS a NIGHT OFF!  Woot!

If you are a San Diego mom, you should come to San Diego Mom’s Night Out Mother’s Day Event!  Don’t worry, it’s not on the “real” Mother’s Day- it’s Thursday, May 10th.   National Mom’s Nite Out is the first nationally organized celebration of motherhood intended to bring together today’s moms, physically and virtually.  National Mom’s Nite Out unites hundreds of social media groups, companies, local playgroups, mommy bloggers and mother social networks in giving moms a well deserved night off. National Mom’s Night Out consists of local events held across the country including ours!

San Diego Mom’s Night Out Mother’s Day Event is going to be at Bliss 101 in Encinitas.  I live in El Cajon, and let me tell you- the drive will be worth it!  Just a few of the fun things planned: wine, food, skinny shots, massages, and swag bags!  Need I say more?  Go get your ticket, gals!   For reals- it’s going to be so nice!

Now, onto my tutorial- I am so pleased with how these turned out!

First things first:  CREDIT.  I first saw this project on Pinterest, which sent me to Mandy Douglass’ blog, It Will Change Your Life. At the bottom of this post I saw the cutest thing I’ve ever seen for Mother’s Day, and thought to myself, “I HAVE to make this!”  I emailed Mandy, and she so graciously agreed to let me post this tutorial.  Thank you, Mandy!

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Clean Up Your Pinterest Boards!

Posted by on Apr 16, 2012 | 14 comments


The time has come.  Someone needs to say it.

As a Pinterest Population, we are getting sloppy, friends.  We’re pinning and repinning and we’re not doing right by each other.

You know what I’m talking about- I’m sure it’s happened to you:  You see something you like on Pinterest, and when you go to repin, the source is not direct.  Maybe it’s a Google image of a project you would be interested in, and there’s no link provided; just a lovely picture.  Maybe it’s an awesome top you’d love to buy, but you have no idea where to find it.  Regardless of the type of pin, the source is all out of whack.

Let’s talk about your boards, too.  Are they organized?  My boards have an organized facade, especially since Pinterest started letting us choose covers for our boards.  But underneath…. there’s a whole bunch of chaos going on.

The pinning party is over.

It’s time to get real.

On April 26th myself, Wendy at Wendy Will Blog, and Ashley at It’s Fitting, are dedicating the whole day to cleaning up our Pinterest boards.  We’re going to take a day to reorganize, refresh, and yes (gasp!) we may even delete a few pins.  We’re calling it Clean Up Your Pinterest Boards Day.

Want to join us?  Here are the details:

On April 26th, devote as much time as you can (within reason) to not pinning, but doing a digital clean up of your own Pinterest boards.  If you plan to participate you can grab the button in my sidebar and post it in your own sidebar to help spread the word.  You could even write a post about it!  We will also be using the hashtag #CUYPB2012 if you are a Twitter geek rockstar.  You could also pin the button onto a Pinterest board to spread the word on Pinterest itself!

“But what does it mean?”  This will be different for everyone.  Everyone uses Pinterest for their own greater good, so do what feels right.  Hopefully, in the end, we’ll help future pinners because they will repin legit pins, and we’ll save ourselves some headaches, too.

Some things to help you out if you’re not sure where to start:

{Check Sources}

Do your pins lead you to the correct place?  Do they lead you ANYwhere?  If you click on a pin and it takes you to Google or some other search engine, right back to Pinterest, or if you get an error message…  it’s not pinned correctly.  From here you have to decide if it’s worth your time- either find the original source and update your pin, or delete it.

{insert record scratching here} “Wait, you mean I have to go through all my pins and check them all?”

That’s up to you.  But think about how many times you’ve seen something on Pinterest and just pinned it instantly without checking the source. Not only is that not fair to other pinners, it’s horribly unfair to the person who created the content you are pinning.

If editing all of your boards is overwhelming, consider just working on your biggest board.  Then you could go back and work on smaller boards as time allows.

{Update Descriptions; Make Pins More Searchable}

Do you have any bad pinning habits?  Pins are not very searchable (and therefore not very useful) if you just write “Love this.”  Or “OMG!  So cute!”  Go back to those pins and write “Love this headboard for my bedroom” or “OMG this leather Coach purse is so cute!”  Also, if your pin comes from a blogger of any kind, consider adding the name of their blog to the description.  They worked hard on that post and are proud that you pinned or repinned it.  It would be nice to give them credit.  For example, when I write a description for a pin from a crafting blog, I will type, “I love this teacher appreciation gift @ Skip To My Lou.”

{Update Your Board Covers}

It’s easy to do, and it makes it easy to visually distinguish them from other boards.  If you haven’t done it yet, read this.

{Update Your Followers}

Take a few minutes and look through people who are following you.  You can see all of them by going to your main board page and clicking on your number of followers.  You’ll see everyone who is following you.  Is your aunt on there?  Maybe you should follow her back.  Your best friend from college?  I bet she’d like you to show her some love, too.   Take another few minutes and follow some new people.

When you’re done you will feel like you’ve completed a digital spring cleaning of your Pinterest boards.  You can pat yourself on the back, and then pin with more knowledge.  Be sure to keep up your good pinning habits so that we can keep Pinterest a great place to be!

If you’re going to participate and are a blogger, please copy the code for the button in my right side bar (towards the top).  You can add the button to your sidebar or post and help spread the word however you like- Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest itself, or any other venue you choose.  Not a blogger?  You’re still rad!  You could share this post on Facebook to let others know.

Remember, our Twitter hashtag is #CUYPB2012.  

Hope to hear from you on April 26th!  I’m looking into having a linky party and lots of tweeting!

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New Camera!

Posted by on Mar 26, 2012 | 2 comments

Hello CC Friends!

It’s Monday the 26th of March.  This happens to be the day after my birthday.  And what a birthday weekend it was!  I’m 36 now.  Officially heading towards 40, even though I still feel 29.  Maybe 28.

My sweet son, Jack, was born March 23rd, 2009.  We had his 3rd birthday party on Saturday, which I will be sharing with you soon.  I’m really pleased with how the party went, and hope I can share it with you in a little “mini-series” which would be a first.

The most wonderful thing about my own birthday is this pretty little lady:



My husband found it for me after hours of combing Craig’s List for several days.  I couldn’t be more pleased with it- it’s the perfect “step up” camera.  I have no idea how to use it and shall commence tutorial combing soon.  My Canon Powershot SD750 was just not giving me the photos I want for this blog and for our family.  Watch my Pinterest Boards– there’s going to be lots of photography stuff going up soon!

In this new year for me I want to do so much- I want to make a bucket list, center my goals up, and finish my Happiness Project with the ladies at Chronically Distracted.  Many, many goals.

I’ll be back tomorrow (hopefully) with a summary of Jack’s party.  Today I need to recover, organize, and regain my sanity.  Not to mention update the family blog and maybe do some dishes.  Oh, and work.  I should probably do some work.  :)


Happy Monday (if there is such a thing)!

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