Thursday, October 3, 2013

Stuffed marrow, or is it zucchini!?

We have a lovely set of neighbours in our sweet little neighbourhood, and they often do kind things for us, like wedding soup when we're poorly, made an amazing Easter cake for the children, hand out cookies when we pass by on our walks around the neighbourhood and even decorate their yard especially for our children, since our circle is private and there is no reason traffic passes through unless you live here.

So anyways, they always have a super impressive garden full of delicious veggies and some fruits, but their zucchinis are the bomb. They are unbelieveably good, and did I mention HUGE!? 
When we got on the other day I decided to do a throw back to my childhood when my mum would make stuffed marrows for us. It's such a rustic, yummy dish, and so inoffensive, you have to like it. It also does not have to be meat either, so it's a vegetarian option too! Yay veggies!!
Ok, so to answer a question that i've been asking ever since I realised Americans claim to not have "marrows",  and our little lost in translation moment between zucchini and courgette. I did a little research. In fact, it IS what I thought.
The term zucchini comes from Italian, "zucchino" and you guys changed it up a bit. They are usually harvested around 15cm (5-6inches) long. The term courgette comes from the French, "courgette" (at least we didn't change ours by one letter! What's that about!?) They are more of the "baby" of the bunch, and are harvested "young" and about 14cm. BOTH come from the same plant, they are the essentially SAME thing.
Now for the term marrow. I have had many a discussion about this and been told i'm wrong countless times, but now after research I KNOW i'm right. Ah, the feeling of knowing your right. Bliss.
Marrow IS from the zucchini/courgette plant. It IS the same. It is simply a different stage of growth. Marrows are the semi-mature fruits which have reached full size. Meaning, they are as big as they'll get, but could stay on the plant longer, they just probably wouldn't taste too good.
Marrows are the BEST for stuffing as there is more vegetable to use. A full grown can be upwards of 38cm (that's 15inches!!!)
Ours was actually about 15 inches long, and here is the recipe I made up to use it!

Stuffed Marrow/Zucchini 

One large marrow (you could use zuc. but it might be a bit more fiddly!)
A jar of Home-made or store bought tomato basil sauce
1lb of organic minced beef/lamb or sausage meat
Vegetarian: Use any meat substitute (quorn etc), in a minced/diced style
One medium onion, diced
One chopped yellow pepper diced
Fresh chopped garlic
Your favourite herb mix. I love organic all-purpose from Krogers
salt and pepper to taste
Feta cheese (or your favourite type of cheese)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

1. Put a large pot filled with water on boil.
2. Slice the zucchini in half and dig out the insides till about 3/4 inch depth is left. DO NOT THROW THE INSIDES AWAY!! Take the insides and dice as well as you can, it can be a little mushy, but that is fine. Set those aside.
3. Once water has boiled take the zucchinis and dunk them for about a minute. I turned mine after a minute as they would not fully immerse since they were so big. While they are softening, get your large baking dish (mine is the white one in the pictures) and pour in enough sauce to cover the bottom of the dish and then place your zucchini halves in there and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Set aside.
4. In a sauce pan saute the onions, peppers and garlic along with the inside of the zucchini that you had set aside and then brown the meat or whatever vegetarian sub. you are using.
5. Add the remainder of the tomato basil sauce to the meat and veggie mix. Add your herb mix here, to however you like the taste. Salt and pepper to taste too! Remember seasoning is important, but it's also down to taste! Just don't over salt, there is no need!!
6. Take the sauce you have just made and stuff into the softened zucchinis. Once stuffed sprinkle with your choice of cheese and feel free to add a smattering of worcestershire sauce on top if you like that little punch of flavour!
7. Place in oven, covered with tin foil, for around 20-30 minutes. Since all marrows are different in size you should keep an eye on yours to make sure they don't overcook. Cook just until browned on top. If you prefer it a little crispy, then pop the broiler on for a last blast under the flames.
 The voila!! You are done! It is AMAZING. A lot of people don't like to add the insides, and i'm truly not sure why. It's amaaazing! No need for eggs and bread crumbs etc. Those are unnecessary heavy ingredients!
{Excuse the cell phone pics, I was feeling a little lazy!}

Thank you Shirley and Phil Prosperi for your donations to our big family. You have NO idea how much it helps, and you helped inspire a new favourite meal for us all now.
They really are the sweetest people and they are the type of people who restore your faith in genuinely kind and good people. We just adore them!

Bon Appetit, my friends!

Monday, September 9, 2013

An unexpected pregnancy and miscarriage and how I coped....

Well, this is going to prove to be one of the hardest posts I've ever written. I've battled with whether to write it, or not, but the more I think about it the more I wonder if my experience happened to help me be able to comfort someone else, a friend, a stranger etc. I also feel, as a woman, it's not something I should feel alone with.
So, do you all remember my last post about my surgery? If not. You should probably read that one first for this to make much sense.
The craziest thing happened that day.
We had been at the pool all day, and as usual I had been in pain, but it was nothing out of the ordinary. I'm in pain all the time. I'm so used to it that i'm at the point where I conceal how I feel so well that people don't notice/realize that I'm not well. I never let the crippling pain I feel in my abdomen show on my face. I wait till i'm safe in my home to cry about the stabbing, burning feelings that I get and the constant cramping that goes on where my uterus is. (Please remember, i'm not an overshary person, I'm sharing because I hope that I can help someone else who is feeling this. I suffer from endometriosis and adenomyosis combined. It is crippling.)
Well, at the end of this particular day I had been feeling odd. My pain wasn't as bad as normal, but I felt strange. I suddenly had the feeling I needed to take a pregnancy test. So, Clyde stopped off at Rite Aid before we got home and grabbed one. I fed the kiddos when we got in, and in between sweeping the floors I took the test and left it in the bathroom to decide yes or no while I finished the floors. I had forgotten about it after getting back to my chore, until I heard the door squeek and Clyde came out to me saying "No freakin' way!!!".... I remember staring at him and immediately feeling angry, I told him to quit messing and this was one thing that his sense of hillarious humour was NOT welcomed in. He grabbed me by my shoulders held me and looked in my eyes. His eyes were full of excitement and gleaming. He told me, "You are pregnant Jessie!" .....
I felt my knees go weak and Clyde had to physically hold me up. I broke down and asked how this could happen? {I don't mean HOW....obviously I know HOW, but more in a how can this happen to us when i'm getting a hysterectomy in 2 weeks, kind of "how"}
This is where I am so aware that I married the most amazing man. He is the strongest man I know, while also being the sweetest man I know. He held me and not for a minute did he falter. He gave me the pep talk I needed and reminded me how strong our family is, how strong WE are, how strong I am.
So, after maybe 5 minutes of sheer panic, fear and confusion, I allowed myself to feel the excitement that was hiding beneath the other stuff. I couldn't believe I was pregnant.
It was NOT planned, not even a little bit, but after convincing myself for the past few months to go ahead with the hysterectomy it reminded me how we are not in control. It reminded me to be able to roll with the punches sometimes.
So, for the last few weeks I've busied myself with choosing prenatal vitamins, wondering if it would be a boy or a girl, thinking of where we would fit this little one in our house, who would share rooms etc. We talked about how we felt old, but aren't really. I think having 4 children in 30 months sure made us feel older than we are really. Hahaha! Keep reminding myself i'm still in my 20's, and not my 40's!!
I found out I was 6 weeks pregnant and after all the fear washed away, I couldn't have been happier. We couldn't have been happier.
Well, the day before what would have been the day my surgery was supposed to take place, I started feeling unwell. I knew something was wrong.
I was in so much pain that I ended up at the ER. After tests and lots of confusion and miscommunication between Drs and nurses etc., they had to tell me that I was getting ready to lose the baby.
On the day of my previously scheduled surgery I miscarried.
I couldn't believe the timing on top of everything else. It was hands down one of the most emotionally painful things I have ever experienced. It felt so cruel.
This is not something I could normally ever share with anyone. But despite how painful this is to write about, after a few weeks of healing and praying about how I feel, I felt prompted to share my voice with other women. I know that I would have appreciated hearing from other women to help comfort me, so I'm praying that this comforts even at least one other person.
I know that the pain we all might feel will be different, as not only is each case different, but each woman deals with life trials differently. All I can do is say how I personally coped.
Without going into too much personal experiences that I just prefer to keep sacred to myself, I wanted to share the basic things that comforted me at this time.
While I went through the miscarriage we stayed up in Pittsburgh at a hotel. We were blessed to know that my mummy happened to be in town for what was supposed to be my surgery recovery period where she was going to watch the children so I could lay in bed. Turns out it wasn't so different after all. We knew the children would not only be safe, but be having a blast being entertained by Nama who just adores them. This time was ours to heal, together.
I drank A LOT of tea, which calmed my anxiety and tummy. I tried all types of herbal tea and settled on a few of my favourites which I will share another time. {I literally could do a series of posts on herbal and fruit teas!}
I cried, a lot. I tell you this because I feel it is important. When we were still waiting in the ER for the results of the hormone levels I remember chewing on my mouth to hold back the tears, I could feel them stinging behind my eyes but I wanted to feel strong and like I could handle it no matter what the answer was. I was rehearsing how I would react to each possible result when she told me. But when they walked in the room, they didn't need to tell me, I could tell from the look in her eyes. It was pity, but for some reason, I was glad of her empathy at that time. She put her hand on my leg and just nodded that the results were not good. I literally collapsed and let the tears go, and I immediately felt relief. Letting go of those tears was important and with something like this, it's good to remember that no one expects you to be strong. It was ok for me to cry, and I sure did. I cried it out, said over dramatic things and questioned everything, then I waited for my husband to sweetly tell me I was talking absolute nonsense and to pull myself together. Which I did.
It's quite simple really, I learned that it's best to cry it out, say all the silly things that are in your head, and let the person who is with you, husband, mummy, sister, best friend, whoever it is, bring you back to reality. I knew he was hurting too, but he knew that I needed him to lean on and to be my rock.
I know some may believe that having an earlier miscarriage is not so bad, and maybe I would have thought so before it happened to me, but I couldn't have been more wrong if that was the case.
Within the two weeks of us knowing that I was pregnant we had whittled down our boy and girl names to about 4-6 each, discussed nursery colour/theme ideas because they would have to share, we had decided to sell our collection of strollers and buy a new one, I had changed my diet and started taking vitamins because I cared about making sure this little one knew their mummy cared from the minute she knew they were in there. So, quite simply, I was attached, and felt like this little one was a part of our family already. We had told the children and they were SO excited to have this big secret JUST for our family and would put their hands on my belly all the time and ask how big the baby had grown pretty much every hour. We were all so excited.
It felt so unfair that it happened on the day that my surgery had been scheduled. The day my life had been supposed to be taking a huge step towards finally feeling normal, pain-free. The complete opposite happened, and I felt like i'd never been in more pain. But the lessons I learned from that day are priceless and I wouldn't give them back for the world. I grew closer to my family as we clung to eachother for support. My mum held me so tight, she admitted she had no words and I appreciated her honesty, and that fact that she didn't try to string words together and just let her arms do that instead. My brothers both reached out in the simplest of ways that meant so much to me. If anyone knows my brothers, discussing anything like this is the utmost awkward subject yet both had a couple words that comforted me in ways they probably never knew. My dad sent me a text that was so perfect that I saved and will always keep. Clyde's mum spoke with me and comforted me with encouraging words and reminded me that I was a strong mummy who could handle this. I slowly realized that this experience led me to have these close moments with my family and to see sides of them that I admired and may not have experienced otherwise. I hope that I will meet this child someday somehow, and so once I had come to terms with all this, and began to heal, I made myself a plan.
1. Heal. Emotionally and physically. So we stayed a couple more nights in the hotel and talked, talked and talked, ate macarons, watched movies and drank tea.
2. Get back to my beautiful, healthy children at home and squeeze them all real tight and talk about whatever they need to talk about.
3. Pick myself up, dust myself off, get back to our life and trust that there is a great plan for our family and that each of these life experiences happen for a reason and that someday they will make more and more sense.

A few weeks have passed now and my healing is better and better. I appreciate that it happened to me for a few personal reasons, but i'm still trying to figure it all out. There are a lot of unanswered questions that I will continue to pray about. I am stronger for it. I have a better understanding toward women now, and if ever this is something someone else needs comforting for, I now feel like I am equipped with experience and hope that the lessons I learned may help someone, sometime.

I hope that no-one misunderstands this post and finds it distasteful. I passed it by my husband and mummy to check that it wasn't an overshare, but both agreed that after what I went through, the fact that I was looking for something good to come out of it, that this might be part of that. I am aware that early stage miscarriage is more common than we think, and so there must be women out there who wish they could relate with someone or find someone who understands their pain. I do. (I do not intend this post for someone suffering a late term miscarriage, as in my opinion, that is entirely different and I know is not something I could have coped with in the ways I suggest in this post. Please note this.) I just adore my family and I know there are great things to come, I just hope we're ready for them! <3

Thanks for reading the blog, leave a comment if you read it as it's always nice to hear feedback, and specially with this being such a personal blog today, i'd love to know if it meant anything to anyone that I shared it.

Love to you all and again, email me to stay in touch!

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Saturday, July 20, 2013

A big decision for a better life.

Hello One and All!

So it appears that i've been off the radar for a little while. I can only apologize and insist now that i'm back, and i'm fairly certain i'm staying. ;)
So it's been a busy year, and blogging seemed like a luxury that I didn't have time for. However, I am taking a little leave from work (photography) for a little while here. I have had pretty poor health, and despite my surgery back in February, I've actually been pretty poorly. :( I have officially been diagnosed with a condition called Adenomyosis. I have touched on this previously, but after a visit to a specialist in Pittsburgh McGees Womens hospital, it was all made rather official. I have it pretty badly, and am in pain, it's safe to say, 24/7. The pain is rather like someone is taking a knife to my stomach over and over, whilst pooring boiling water onto my whole abdominal region. Delightful, non?
Anyways, long {emotional} story short, I have come to the conclusion that my health, happiness and overall quality of life will be better off if I have all the stuff that is bothering me, removed. Gone. In technical terms, a hysterectomy. Urgh. I know. So final. But it is what it is. We have prayed and thought about it long and hard. I know that Heavenly Father has a plan for us, and when we made the decision we felt at peace. This is all I needed to know. I have, over the last few months, come to terms with the fact that my family is complete. We have a wonderful life together, lots of noise fun, everyone gets along, and i'm finally able to read a magazine here and there (where I would normally have been balancing a baby whilst trying to get things done that were harder to get done with so many little ones. Basically, life is getting easier. Smoother. So this hysterectomy, despite being emotionally devastating, is neccessary. My children need me to join in with the water fights, teach them the moves to gangnam style.....I need to do that cliche "because i'm nearly 30 and i'm panicking about getting old" 5k run etc etc. and this is the only way to do those things.
I don't think it's all about the whole "no more kids" thing, it's also about all that "stuff" making you a woman. I know nowadays they keep your ovaries (sorry if TMI, but this is kinda a TMI so your hormones are less messed with, but still. It's just the idea of it all. To be honest, coming and writing it all down has helped. It's calmed the nerves a little. Maybe voicing it finally is making me realise all the things that will be possible once the deed is done. Although, i'm only doing that 5k run if someone is throwing coloured chalk dust at me, or i'm racing through millions of bubbles. I've come to expect that now after seeing all my "nearly 30yr old" friends completely their 5ks. ;)
So anyways, this was just a quick, somewhat deep, little catch up to let you know I'm baaaaaacccckkk, and to expect me here lots more while I take this little break from work, and enjoy my children, my home and some time away from shoots and editing. *Le sigh* BRING.IT.ON.
My mother will be here in just under 2 weeks as she is the one who will watching the kiddos while we go to ATL for the surgery. She's here for a good while, so i'm planning some activities to do with her. Mainly help me sort out my mess of a basement kind of activities, but shhhh, we won't tell her that quite yet. Mwuahahahaha!!
Well....i'm off to paint my nails, it's Sunday tomorrow and I need to look somewhat respectable, and since I'm not about to wash my hair (blow drying and straightening sounds too much like hard work right now) I need to have cute nails to distract other peoples eyes away from the birds nest to my delightful bright blue nails!
                     Goodnight blogger pals. xx

{Wise words that I needed this last month}

Friday, March 22, 2013

Picture this....

I've been playing with my camera a little over the last few days and wanted to share some of the outcomes!

Welcome to a snippet of my life....{click on the image to make it larger}

 His laugh. I can hear it from this photo. ♥

 Every day, after his nap, he comes downstairs and lays on the couch and watches
 cartoons until the grogginess is gone.

Poser. Max, our resident long-haired chihuahua, who believes he is King. When booking a vet appointment the other day, they asked me his age, I said nearly 7yrs and she said "Oh, so he's getting to be an old man then!", I hadn't thought about it, and now i'm starting to notice the little grey hairs poking through in his eyebrows and muzzle's crazy how pets really become part of the family. ♥

Our newest recuit...Piper. She is a border collie lab mix, and was rescued from our local shelter.
We just found out she is older than what we originally thought, and is approx 6 months old. She is the funniest dog, and keeps everyone entertained with her antics. 
Hoping to have her trained properly in the next couple months so she can channel her energy properly. These big dogs need attention and exercise, so we want to learn properly how to work
 with her, since she's a little different than a chihuahua! ; )

 I have been jealous of this little man's lips since he was born.
 The colour swatch is pulled from his actual lip colour...lush.

Gosh, I love this little girl! She has the sweetest spirit. I'd want to wrap her in cotton wool 
and protect her from this world if I didn't have a feeling that the world might be needing
 strong little girls like her someday... ♥

Oh my goodness, he melts me. I love everything about this picture, from his sour mouth reaction, to the binky clasped in one of his ridiculously huge hands. 

After nap time (around 2pm) is when they are allowed to use anything electronic, so it's quite the connundrum to decide between a learning tablet and cartoons! 

Well, there are a few photos for you, I'd love to hear a little feedback if you feel like commenting! It's always a little intimidating seeing how many people have viewed my posts, but then silently wandered away...I'd love to know what you think! Do you like this style of photography, or do you prefer a cute backdrop and posed pictures? 
Have a great weekend friends!! It's Friiiidaaaaayyyy!!!!! : )

A sneaky healthy breakfast for kiddos!

I've been wanting to share this recipe (if you can call it that) for a while, as I know how hard it can be to give children a healthy breakfast that keeps them full all morning without having to give them that lunch ruining snack, mid morning.
Excuse the ghetto cell phone pic, but it was early, and being Mormon, we don't get to do that whole coffee thing, so waking up tends to take a little earlier...the Canon is safer left in it's cupboard before 8am.

I always have a tub of ground oatmeal in our pantry. I use it for different thing,  but mostly for smoothies and this recipe. I literally just pour a bunch of the oats in my blender (we have the Ninja, it is awesome!) and grind them up till they are powdery.
I then just take as much as I think my 4 will eat, put it in my mother-in-laws lovely bowl that I haven't returned yet (Oops!) and add coconut milk to it. Just enough till it looks a little too liquidy. I then heat it until the consistency is how you prefer it. We like it so it holds form a little. 
If you don't like the idea of chocolate then you can use the vanilla coconut milk which tastes a little sweeter than regular coconut milk. But, if like me, you are a nutella fiend, then go ahead and a dollop. Since the oatmeal is warm, it melts right in. Add until you like the taste...just don't go crazy, or you might be pulling your kids down from the ceiling, with all that sugar! ; )
The texture is a lot easier for children to chow down on, and the chocolate tricks them into thinking they're eating something suuuuper naughty at breakfast, but actually it's super healthy, and just a little bit naughty! 
You have got to try it, it really is soooo goooood! {and no, it's not just for kids! ;)}

Bon Appetit! 

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Progress report {1}...

Eeep! I feel the need to update my blog readers (although there are very few right now since I switched blogs and made my previous one private... :( I'll have to work on that!) on how the weight loss journey was going.

I'm actually having a LOT of fun doing this! I feel like i've changed on the inside too. This is only in 3 weeks! 1 week of just eating better, another week of eating completely well (nothing yuk at all!) and then this last 7days, eating really well and adding on exercise. I'm doing attempting Jillian Michael's 30 day shred, and am LOVING it!

It has only been 7 days of working out and i've noticed changes in my body. I never thought i'd see a difference this fast, but it just goes to show! : ) It's important to add that I have in no way cheated, I have not snuck in a burger, a portion of fries, a bag of candy etc., I have been diligent with every choice i've been making. I finally feel like I understand what it is that people get so "obsessed" with. It's that feeling that you have after the workout of knowing you pushed your body just that little bit further than you thought it would go. For instance, i'm not all that flexible, being 5"8, i've always been kind of awkward as far as flexibility, but in 7 days i'm already stretching way further than when I started, i'm getting further into the straddle thing she does in the cool down and it just feels like it's getting easier and easier! It's such a good feeling. {Yes, yes, I know, it's only been 3 weeks of doing this, and some may find this excitement annoying, but may I refer you back to my first post where I said this was my blog and my opinions...yes? k. Glad we have that sorted. ;) }

I need to take some honest pictures of how my bod looks now. None of the "from above so you can't see my double chin" bad boys! Haha! I want to see the change, from start to where I meet my goal. I'm going to say finish, as I really don't want to finish. I want to reach my goal, and then maintain, but staying active and healthy. I feel so happy now that I can finally do the things i've been wanting to do. Just walking at a moderate speed for a mile hike would leave me in agony the next day, so this surgery has made big improvements to my life. I'm able to do jumping jacks without pain, jump rope, and crunches. These are all things most people despise, and probably would think they would enjoy having an excuse not to do, but when actually can't physically do them, it really does suck. So this surgery was such a blessing and really did change my life. I think the biggest thing that helped was removal of the nerves going from my uterus. My uterus is still pretty much shot, and the Dr admitted, a huge mess, but I just wasn't ready to be rid of it (TMI?), so we did that nerve removal procedure. Basically it means, even though there is most likely still pain down there, I don't feel it. I will eventually return and get myself sorted once and for all, but for now, this will do, and it means I can at least start to get back in shape and being the girl I remember being before I put my body through 3 pregnancies and then took care of 4 children. I love being a mummy, but I'll be the first to admit that I need that "me" time. Where you just do something for you. Sometimes just a shower where someone isn't standing outside of it tapping on the door, is enough! Haha! But now, it's my workout time, and then that awesome accomplished feeling you get when you've finished it. Seriously, I think i'm officially addicted.

I've been browsing different store sites for sports bras and also yoga pants. The best place I found (endorsed by a friend of mine who owns a few of their clothing items) is called LuluLemon. If you like sportswear to wear not just for sports, but for casual every day wear, then you NEED to visit this site, here. My favourite thing and number one on my wish list are the wunderunders. I guess they are super tight leggings that make your tush looks it's best! Can't argue with that!
Well, speaking of all this fun stuff, I need to get on with my workout as the kiddos are in bed now.
Peace out y'all! ;)

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

What I wish I had the guts to say goes nothing...

Hello again!
It's been a while. I've had not the best month. I have been suffering quite a bit since the surgery, but weirdly from something unrelated to the surgery, as far as I know. It's just an unfortunate thing that appeared after and has had me in quite a bit of pain. It's no easy task running around after 4 little ones when you are in pain, but I don't really have any other options, so it's one of those mind over matter things.

I wish I lived closer to my mama as she has always tried to understand and empathize with what I go through. She has never experienced the pain, but when she is here she listens and tries to learn about what I feel. When days like British Mothering Sunday day rolls by (yesterday) and i'm not there, I have a harder time. Any holiday to be honest is rough without your family around. Those traditions you grew up with, the silliness that we used to have when we would spend hours at the dinner table, the jokes that only our family would get, going for long walks in our fields and visiting with our shetland ponies, geese and ducks, playing music that we would all dance and sing too {the boys will deny it, but I promise, when they were little, we all joined in...and the fact that we are all musical still is quite the giveaway! ;)}. It's the little things that I miss. I'm glad though, that I married someone who is so ready to introduce those things to our family. There isn't a day goes by without us singing and dancing together. When weather allows we are outdoors playing and exploring. Yes, somewhat dorky, but we enjoy looking at bugs, and plants and nature in general. Our latest fun due to the inclimate weather {never ending snow} has been a mattress on the living room floor that we all snuggle up on and watching movies with snacks. Wreck it Ralph is HIGHLY recommended by our family to yours, on that note.

I know not everyone who lives in a foreign country feels like this, and i'm not saying my way is the only way, i'm just saying this is how it is for me, and I know for a lot of my girlfriends who are in the same position. I love our family home, and the love that is in it, but I don't think people understand just how different our cultures are. After 8yrs here, I still struggle with homesickness. I still struggle with trying to be more outgoing. I've done a whole lot of faking it to make it...smiling to trick myself that i'm succeeding, when actually i'm super uncomfortable and feel like the "alien" that the embassy referred to me as on the paperwork! Haha!

Even just getting into my business, photography. I grew up in an arty family. My dad is an amazing artist, he owns a successful art gallery in London. It is in my blood. But somehow I feel awkward trying to get a business off the ground in a country that I know nothing about as far as "business". I look at other people who do similar things to me, and I envy their confidence. The fact that they can promote their businesses with no embarrassment or worry about whether they sound arrogant. I just kind of wanted my art to speak for itself, but in a world of social media, and people tooting their own horns all over the place, if you are quiet, you do not get heard. The other problem with it for me, is the clients. A lot of people, through no fault of their own,  have seen other photoshoots, gotten their ideas of that, then want me to replicate it. It goes against every fiber in my body to do that. Not one part of me wants to be a copycat, or wants to be like anyone else, yet somehow I end up doing what a client wants instead of expressing my own art. My husband often tells me that if I just went ahead and did my own vision that people would love it, but I just don't have that much guts. I think that soon enough i'll be stopping my business the way it is and rethinking it. I'm over doing the generic thing. My interest in photography never was to pose babies/children, and was NEVER to do indoor shoots etc. My passion is outdoors, natural beautiful light, real situations. I love family shoots, but not posed. I love real lifestyle shoots. Natural moments that happen between parent and child, sibling love, or even sibling disagreements! Haha! Those are the moments that should be captured. Not a baby smiling awkwardly because someone is squeaking a toy above my head, or trying to make them do something that they normally wouldn't do. The whole ordeal (yes...ordeal!) is painful for me, and at the end of the shoot I'm left wishing I had done what I fallen asleep thinking about the night before. The shoot where I have Mum and baby play together on the floor, mummy rocking their little one, feeding them, dad tossing them in the air as their squeal with excitement, or a family walk on a trail, etc. Doing things that they do together every day. I have very few pictures of my children that are "posed", and the ones I do have I don't really care for. I love the ones where they are giggling so hard at the table because their baby brother snorted spaghetti out of his nose, or where daddy is consoling one because he got a boo boo on his knee, or a quiet moment where big sister is reading to her baby brother. These are the moments I want to capture for people. Real life. I can guarantee, from experience, that those images will be the ones to make you smile and even cry when they are grown and look back on them. I just wish I had the guts to say it. To tell people when they ask me to pose their child, or squeeze them into an outfit that is uncomfortable and something that they wouldn't wear every day, that I don't agree. There is a time and a place for it. I'm all for fun outfits, but let them wear it for what it is, fancy dress, and let them play while wearing it, if it's fairy wings and a tutu, let them run around and pretend to be a fairy, or a butterfly, watch them light up with a real smile, let them call your name and ask you to watch them as they whizz around. That facial expression will be the one that makes you swoon, and that you put on your wall.  I wish that I didn't feel bullied into changing my art. Which is why, taking a break might be the best thing for me, and my business. I am taking big steps in changing my lifestyle right now, and I think a healthy body promotes a healthy mind too, so maybe this will be the kickstart I needed to make the changes to my art too.

I didn't mean for this post to be "ranty", more just something that i've been meaning to say, but haven't. It's not an attack on other photographers or past clients. The shoots i've done up till now have been learning processes, and i've been blessed to get to know some really awesome families whilst doing them. There will always be people who are more comfortable with posing their child, and that is a matter of taste. Not a matter of wrong or right. This is MY idea of art, and the way I think. It's what I want for my business, personally.

Ahhh...that feels good to get off my chest!

Just wanted to share a few family (including my sweet little niece) shots that were not "posed" shoots, and some of my favourites. I only have limited access on my new computer, so I only had a few to choose from. But I adore all of these images too and wanted to share, to help explain the idea of "lifestyle".

{I wanted to capture my little guys curls before we made the big chop, & for that reason, this picture just melts my heart. I love the glow of the sun coming from behind him & highlighting them!}
 { here is a smile...but it certainly wasn't a posed one with mummy dancing behind me
shaking what her mama gave her, ;) This is a real happy smile from being outside on
a beautiful day and watching her older cousins playing and making her giggle.}
 {This is a more "posed" style, yet very loosely posed. She had been goofing around, playing on her bike, and I asked for a picture and she jumped up and put her hands on her hips, in her true sassy style. There are ways to achieve more posed styles without physically posing a child.}

{These images were captured on a little nature trail we took. We do this a lot as a family, and so capturing something that we love doing as a family was really fun for me. I get shown a lot of things that they find on the woods floor, and getting his grubby fingernails and inquisitive face was perfect!}
 {these two faces the boys are making aren't the typical expression my clients want...but to me they are precious, this is how I remember my silly boys, and how I will WANT to remember them.}
{Summer's uncle is on his LDS church mission in Brazil right now and so capturing this
moment is special to her as she is only little and it's fun to remind her of the sweet
things her uncle and her would do.} 
 {This has to be one of my all time favourite moments I caught. They had no idea I was watching.
They had been playing and running around and their aunt and I were watching them, and all of
a sudden they had an unspoken twin moment and stopped for a sweet hug. Knowing this is a
genuine moment makes it so much more special to me. x}
{During a road trip, we stopped with a bunch of restless kids and let them run riot at a rest stop,
this is where they made daddy play hide and seek with them. It's hillarious watching little ones
race around and giggling super loud thinking that their have the best hiding spots, and daddy pretending that he has no idea where the relentless giggling is coming from. Haha!}

If you are wondering how a natural shoot can happen like this for you, ask your local photographer to follow you around during a regular family activity. It could be a saturday morning where you all stay in your jammies and eat breakfast and watch cartoons together, it could be a trip to a museum, a simple day at the park, a picnic, whatever you like! It is how I'll be gearing up my business in the next few months. I'm so excited to finally be using my imagination again and getting my "art" on! ;) Spring and Summer season definitely gets me excited for this change. Ahhh...change!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Let's do it....

(Disclaimer: Some of my surgery deets are in this and are a little stomach read with caution! haha!)

So, it's my last day in Atlanta before we leave to go home to Ohio and i'm laying here planning. I love to plan. But this is serious planning. {insert serious face} 
So I know i've sorta kinda been over this, but you know when you have that "AHaaaa" moment? and the plan suddenly gets set in stone and the pencil gets erased and the Sharpie comes out....well that's what happened. 

My body has been out of my control just lately. Without being too gross, a small part of my surgery this week was separating my organs. I had adhesions all over my abdomen, and so technically that meant that a whole bunch of my organs were all stuck together. If you're wondering if I could feel it, yes, I could. In the way that if I moved too fast, or tried to run, dance my insides would hurt like crazy and move unnaturally. A few days before I left to come down here, my mum, her BFF and I were dancing amuse the kidlings and I got a little over excited and busted out one of my old moves, I felt an almighty rrrrrrrrrip. I wanted to cry, puke and faint all at the same time from the pain. I come to find out now, after the surgery, that that rip was just that, a was the adhesions tearing apart. *shudder*. 

So part of my surgery, all those adhesions have been removed now!! Along with the rest of the stuff they did during my surgery, in a few weeks I will be able to exercise. I'm hoping in a week or so to get hold of a treadmill to just get my body prepared by walking lightly and slowly working up to jogging like I used to when I was younger. I loved running in college.
So my big plan: To put myself first and get in shape. It's one thing to want to lose weight, and like the idea of working out, and another thing to have a break through. I've HAD my breakthrough today, and i'm ready. I'm ready to s-l-o-w-l-y work up to working out and being the best ME. I want to dance again, and to dance, I need to be fit and flexible. So that's the plan. I know it's silly to some, but to me, after going through pregnancies, one being a mulitple, and putting my body through all of those in basically torture to my 27yr old body. Now it's my turn to give back to my body and treat it like the flippin' hero it is! As much as I like to think Cold Stone is a treat, really it's just more punishment. I hate not fitting into my clothes, and I hate having to select size Large, I hate catching myself in the mirror, I rarely take any pictures, we have ZERO family pictures with me in it etc.

I am not saying appearance is what ultimately matters...not at all. This is strictly how I feel personally, about ME. If someone is happy when they are bigger, you can tell, they are comfortable in themselves, and hold themselves confidently and wear cute clothes and jewellry etc.. But I can not be. Most of the time I cover myself up, I wear clothes that are uncomfortable on me....technically sweats/yoga pants should be comfy, but they're not to me, as they are all I CAN wear because what I really want to wear, doesn't fit. This doesn't mean when I've gotten fit I won't wear yoga pants, as I absolsutely will...I will just buy myself NEW and maybe even FANCY ones...maybe even an outfit from somewhere other than Target. I'll maybe buy new jewellry and accessories, which I don't anymore as I don't feel I deserve it. This is not a sob story, more of just an admission that I am aware that I am making myself miserable. No one else is accountable. Just myself. Ouch.

So...basically, I am writing this post to take accountability for this, and to say I WILL lose this weight, and more importantly, I WILL feel healthy again. The irony is, I don't even like fast food, I don't like fake food, so i'm not going to miss any of those things...I mainly eat badly because I go for quick or I just graze off my kids plates when they are done, and don't eat the proper things my body needs. After having such an intense surgery, I owe it to my body to take ownership of what goes in and how it is treated. 

So, readers, there you have it, right from the horses mouth...I WILL get back in shape and good health. For my happiness, and to be a great example to my children...and dang....I want to be a hot wife too! ;) If anyone else is on this journey then i'd love to hear from you so we can swap tips, and cheerlead each other, if you want to start with me then speak up! I know that this is not a decision anyone can make for you, as before when it was suggested to me, I kicked back and it ticked me is a choice you have to be ready for, or else you're not in it 100%. I'm there now, and won't ask anyone to join me, but I will say, I'd love to have some fellow life changers with me! :)

Here's to a healthy 2013...whether it takes 6months or a year....i'm going to lose 40lbs and be doing cartwheels soon enough!! If I find any super awesome tips, exercises, recipes etc. i'll post. I won't be doing any fads, or taking any diet pill supplements as we don't have $$ to start all that, and I just don't really believe in them. Nothing is more powerful than a woman's mind made up! ;) 

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Don't forget....

         If you want to get to know us, know about our health kick or are here searching for answers about endo then check out the tabs above! ^ I forced the husband to answer questions, and answered them myself etc! Feel free to pinch the questionaire yourself and put one up on your own blogs so your readers can get to know the weird and wonderful things about you! :)

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Sunday, February 10, 2013

A little introduction....

Hello & Welcome to my blog!

This blog is something i'm beginning as I begin a new chapter in my life. The chapter i'm beginning is one of health. :) I am sitting up in a hotel bed right now, it is day 5 after I've had a surgery which I have waited a few years for.  It is not a "serious illness" to many, but it was a life changing illness to me. Endometriosis has taken over my body since puberty and i'm finally on the way to beating it I think! I will cover my endo journey in another section of the blog, but I wanted to explain the main reason to the start of this blog. I want a fresh start where I start to do what I talk about doing, say what I want to say and achieve the things I want to achieve. It's quite simple really. It's a peek into the life of a wife and Mummy of 4 little ones (They are all 4yrs and fact I had them all within 30months!!) and all the excitement that goes along with it. I often have an opinion on things that happen every day and I want to start sharing those opinions and maybe making a difference to at least one or two other women.

Other than being a wife and mummy, I am a photographer (mostly lifestyle and natural light), crafty crafter, I love to sew, an advice giver and I love to organize. I'm not saying i'm 100% fabulous at all these things, but I 100% enjoy doing them all.

So here goes nothing.

A little back story to myself for anyone who likes a little history behind who they are reading about.

I was born in London, but from the age of 2, grew up in a little village named Biddenden, in the South East of England. It is just South of London. About 45 minutes away to be exact.

I had a pretty privileged childhood where I got to experience a lot of fun things, go visit a bunch of awesome places and was surrounded by people who helped shape me as a person. My family had lots of friends growing up, but all different types of friends, and as a result, I got to know people of all different backgrounds and lifestyles. We visited places that we took interest in, and flew/ferried our way to different countries too. It's safe to say my parents liked to expose us to knowledge. In no way am I claiming to be a super intelligent/boffin, but I AM claiming to have pretty AWESOME parents who tried to ensure we had a good start to life.

I attended an all girls boarding school. It was an experience, let's say. I have some hilarious memories from there, some great friends and at the end of the day it led me to where I am now....if it was somewhat inadvertently. As with most private schools, academic was the priority....the one problem for me....I wasn't (and still am not!) the most academic. I'm still useless with grammar, AWFUL at maths, do not understand science and favourite thing about that was flirting with the teacher! hahaha! (another perk of an all girls school!)

The other thing I learned at school....girls can be mean. A lot. The irony now is that a lot of the girls who were "mean" sort of amounted to being...well....the same as they always were. They were trying to keep up with the Jones's (or some other double barreled name) and most likely still are. I'm fairly certain my dream was always to marry the love of my life, and have a happy, successful family. By happy and successful, I mean, just that. Happy and Successful...for themselves. Not for anyone else. I was made fun of for being "me", and I see that teens still are. I'll never understand it. If it doesn't directly effect you, then, why on earth do you care?? I wasn't part of the rich gang, I didn't carry the right bag, hang the right designer tear out poster on my wall, have a whole gaggle of friends called Freddy, Fergus, Angus, I vacationed in Torrevieja, not St Tropez, bought my luggage from Matalan, not LV etc., but you know what...I didn't care. I didn't care until THEY cared. I was quite happy being me, and not until I overheard the whispers.

This blog is to help clear up a few things in my head. As much as I wish those years hadn't been so hard, and those girls hadn't cornered me to say things simply to humiliate me, or make me feel small, I am grateful for them, as they built me. I am not angry with those girls, and in fact,  it is so fun to me to see fellow classmates succeed and become women of worth. Maybe they had no idea how their words broke my spirit at the time. I would sometimes lie to avoid embarrassment, or to just somehow skip over a conversation, and that in turn would lead me to disliking myself.

I wish that girls knew these things now, and knew how hard our lives can get in a few years, so making this time in our lives a little kinder, having a little more empathy, might give them a little less to regret in the future. I wish that girls could take just one moment a day to think of something nice/genuine to say to one unsuspecting person and see how this built them up. It not only builds up the recipient, but pointing out sweet things about others helps you maybe see some sweet things about yourself that you didn't realise.

I'm not an ignorant person, and am fully aware that we all have different opinions and ideals, but i'm not ashamed to say that I believe we all (and our opinions) can live peacefully together. As long as the choices you make do not physically affect me or my family, then I have absolutely no right to oppose how you choose to live your life, and vice versa. Freedom of speech I think all too often gets confused with freedom to in, people don't know when to just hush. I think we all have great worth in who we are, and it may or may not be clear to everyone what our individual worth is, but irregardless of that, the worth is there. I saw a quote the other day which I thought was just perfect and wanted to share as it seemed so perfect for my first post:

(source unknown)
Too often I see people judging and putting their opinions out where really they are not welcome. It's seen in schools so much now, and even back when I was there. Just because someone is different, or the same things don't make them happy, doesn't mean their view is of less value.
This post was just meant to just start my blog off in the way I basically say, this blog is MY opinion, and things I love, if you agree, then read on, if not, that's ok too! I have always been a little too afraid to say my own opinion before, but this blog is the start. I don't mean pushy, I just mean i'll be sharing what makes me happy and what I think might give others happiness too.  (wow...I sound like a hippy!)
Ok...serious blog post over, and now moving onto more normal regular blogging, but try to remember this idiom...
 Live and Let Live.

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