Friday, November 28, 2008

farewell fall

I have so much to be thankful for. Monkey Pants woke up yesterday in the best mood ever like she just knew it was Thanksgiving. I laid in bed for a bit and watched she and Shane down on the floor wrestling and giggling and then reading books and I thought, boy I am ever blessed. So thankful.

Thanksgiving was nice and simple and relaxing this year. Brunch at my mom’s with my family and dinner with Shane’s family. Some times I volunteer to bake pies and yummy dishes which are great but also a lot of work. More and more I am learning my limits. I felt overwhelmed this year so I was smart and brought the same potato casserole to both places. And may I say it was amazing. Not the casserole, I mean it was good but the lack of clean up is what was amazing. One bowl. Two casseroles. And done. Every one and their mother probably already has this recipe, but I’m posting it anyway. This makes one casserole, I just doubled it.

Cornflake Potatoes

One 2 lb bag of hash browns thawed (I like the chunks, not the shavings)
One 16 oz tub of light sour cream
1 can cream of chicken soup
8 oz shredded cheddar cheese
2/3 cup chopped onion
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
2 cups cruched up corn flakes
1 Tbsp. butter melted

Mix the first 7 ingredients in a bowl and dump in a casserole dish. Bake at 350 degrees until bubbling. Sprinkle the cornflakes on top. Drizzle the butter on top of that and bake for 10 more minutes. Nice and gooey and easy.

Did anyone venture out shopping today? I went and got some Christmas shopping done. It was kind of nuts, but I did get some good deals. It was fun to buy for Marlie because this is the first year I think she will get pretty excited about her gifts.

We keep it small in the Duggin household. Shane and I just do stockings for each other and in effort to keep Christmas Christ centered instead of “stuff” centered, we made the decision that we would give our children 3 gifts every Christmas. Three gifts because that is how many gifts Jesus was given. So don’t tell her, but this year Marlie is getting a cute little apron (she likes to pretend cook) a pop up tent that looks like an igloo, and an Elmo doll (she calls him Mo). Not a laughing or jumping or dancing one. Those scare the poop out of miss Monkey Pants. Just a cute huggable one. I can’t wait to see her pull him out of a box.

Farewell fall. Thank you for the leaves and the chai tea and the cardamom candles. Its time to get out the green and red. We’ll be decorating this Sunday. Decorating for Christmas is always one of my favorite days of the year.

But before that I have my 10 year high school reunion tomorrow night. I am not at all nervous (lie) and I’m just going to throw on something I already have in my closet (or the outfit that took ten tries to decide on). I helped plan this shindig so lets hope all goes well.

Have a good weekend!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

note to self

I keep thinking that since work is winding down for the season I am going to have a bunch of free time for relaxing, blogging, reading. Not so much. I had a date with my bathtub and my Real Simple magazine tonight and I totally stood them up. I am learning that no matter how much more free time I have I always manage to fill it up. Like today I had a little free time but instead of oh I don’t know, taking a shower, I made cookies for Shane. Sometimes baking is fun and other times its just frustrating and a big mess like it was today. So, note to self…slow the heck down. I’m trying I swear.

On that note I am trying to reflect on my busy season this year and look at what I should do differently next year. This run your own business/be a mom and wife thing is a hard balance and I learn new things every year. So here is what I’ve got so far…

1) Don’t do tons of Sunday photo shoots! If you do any at all make them later in the afternoon. I missed church so much this fall and it was so stupid of me. I don’t know what I was thinking and it makes me sad that I so quickly sacrificed that time. It’s important for me to go to church and I put work before that. Bad idea.

2) Get frozen meals made or prepared to have on hand. We ate horribly this year because I didn’t have time to cook.

3) Look ahead and plan out slots that are available for shoots. When they are full, they are full. I have a problem saying no even though I know I’m in over my head. For some reason it is easier to say “all my slots are booked.” than “No, I can’t do it.”

4) More business and more money is not worth sacrificing my sanity and my family.

That’s what I have so far. I’m still thinking it all through. I’m exhausted. It’s bed time. Tomorrow is going to be a busy one. But I am going to try my best to go slow. I have my last two photo shoots of the season and some errands to run and I get to see some sweet friends. Hope you have a good Wednesday. Only two days until turkey and cranberry sauce!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Congrats Gav and Erin

Whew that was one full weekend. Full of places and people and seeing my brother with his heart full. He is so happy and that makes me happy. Monkey Pants was worn out and I’ll be honest, a very huge handful this weekend. She had her own plans and agenda for the weekend. But she was also hilarious and cute and very professional. Meaning she may have thrown a ballistic fit in the back of the church tossing snacks in the air and all over herself before the ceremony, but when it was time to walk down the isle she just took the hands of the other flower girls and went. I was so proud. I was a bridesmaid so I don’t have any photos of it to show you. I thought it might have been inappropriate for me to leave my post at the altar and run down to snap photos. Even though I kinda wanted to.

In fact, I don’t have a ton of photos to post at all. First because I was busy trying to stay in my dress and walk in my shoes and help keep Marlie happy. Second because the wedding photographer knew I was a photog as well and I did not want to be obnoxious. I know what its like to have someone else trying to do your job and getting their flash all up in your binness. So, I snapped a few photos and enjoyed just being there.

Here is Monkey at the rehearsal. Shane's mom got her this dress and I love it.

I love how you can see the hairspray in this one of Erin getting ready.

Monkey Pants showing us her moves on the dance floor...

She made a little friend and they kept hugging and kissing. It was hilarious. Shane is a little worried though.

This is my favorite one of the two of them. Gavin looks so happy.

Now there is another Erin Elizabeth Brady! She took over my old name. People keep asking me if that bothers me but it really doesn't because I love her and I'm pretty attached to Duggin because I'm pretty attached to Shane.

Today is a slow day of who knows what. I've got some things that need to be done but Marlie has a bit of a stomach bug which is no good. Maybe from all of that kissing? So I'm waiting to see how she does. We may just stay in our jammies all day and watch movies and thats just fine with me.

I will leave you with a note about spray tanning in case you are wondering how it turned out. It looked great except you should really watch your hands if you decide to do it. My body looked like I went to Florida for a week but my right thumb looked like I had gone to Jamaica for a month. Yikes.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

wedding weekend

My brother is getting married this weekend. And today I am running around wrapping up some work stuff and doing last minute things for the wedding while Monkey Pants hangs out at Gunnie's house. I got my nails done. I bought tights for Monkey and shoes for myself. I've got to pack, return some client phone calls, get some stuff in the mail and tonight..go spray tanning. I'm in the wedding and my dress is strapless so mystic tan here I come. I tried it out last week to see how it was and I must say I'm impressed. It works. It is quite the experience there is lots of prep and its pretty intimidating when you step in the booth. When I got out I was thinking well, my lungs are surely a deep shade of bronze. Its hard to breathe in there. But I was happy with the results so I'm off for a second round.

I'm outta here to get stuff done but I will leave you with some photos from a recent shoot. This is my business blog right? Sometimes I forget. This is little Waylon. Love that name and loved this little guy. It was so cold outside but he sure didn't mind....

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Ahhh that's better

Yesterday was much better than Monday. Sure, there were hiccups and frustrations but I didn't feel the need to disappear under the covers so that is a good sign. I got some work done, got a ton of collages packed up for shipping with Beth, and with the help of my friend Amy and this bloggin lady Kristal bought not one, but TWO cardamom candles on ebay. I had looked there before and not found any and then these ladies looked for me and there they were. Thanks guys that was so great of you.

In the afternoon I snagged some time to take Monkey Pants for her first haircut. I had avoided it as long as I could, but look at this kid. It was time.

My brother's wedding is this weekend and she is going to be a flower girl so it was time to shape up that mop. She was amazingly good. I couldn't really believe that she just sat there.

When she got a little wiggly they gave her a lollipop and she was happy. Of course then it turned in to a very sticky hairy lollipop which was pretty gross.

At first I wasn't so sure about the cut. My stomach kind of sank when they were done. My mother in law was with us and she said "Well, she kind of looks like Price Valiant." Oh yeah, that is exactly the look I was going for. But this morning it looks better and I gotta say its nice not to have to keep getting those bangs out of her food. She looks like a little girl instead of a baby. Sigh.

Today I have some help with Marlie so I'll be running errands and wrapping up some work. Amazingly I am almost done with the bulk of my busy season editing. I was careful to make sure this year that my insanity with work would be mostly over by the time Shane's insanity with finals comes around. Thats the way it needs to be because our family does not do well if we are both losing our minds. Shane needs a calm clean house and dinners and treats during that time and I going to do my best. For the first time in a long time I can see the end in sight. And at the end is Christmas and I love that.

Happy Wednesday.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Monday schmunday

Today was craptastic. For lots of reasons. There is no other word for it. I stayed up until 1:30 and Monkey Pants woke up at the butt crack of dawn. That is not a good way to start the day. She is on cold #2 for the season and is a crusty little thing. Then throughout the day I dealt with a big crap bag of things that made me want to put on my sweatpants and curl up in bed forever. I’m not going to go in to it, but it stunk.

However there are good things to talk about and be thankful for. I stayed up late but that means that I got a ton of editing done and now I feel like I am actually almost on top of things. That feels nice. Marlie was crusty but also snuggly all day. That’s the only plus of a sick kiddo, the snuggles. And the name collage business is picking up for the Christmas season so that is encouraging. This is the first year that I have Beth helping me and boy is that something to be thankful for. If I didn’t have her help I would have had 5 breakdowns by now instead of 1 or 2. You’re the bomb diggity BB and you know it.

Speaking of name collages just a note to all my Kirkwoodian customers. Some of you have faithfully purchased signs at Moonbeams in downtown Kirkwood. I just wanted to let you peeps know that they aren’t there anymore. There are some collages there for sale that look very much like them so it would be easy to mistake them for mine, but they aren't. However, you can purchase them here on my website or at The Painted Zebra. They make a great Christmas gift. Especially the new color ones. I am so happy with they way the look!

Another thing to be thankful for is the smell I am smellin right now. I am enjoying the last few hours of this candle.

And I better take it all in because it has been discontinued. It is the best smelling candle I ever sniffed so I have no idea why they stopped making it but continue making those stinky fruity scents. I have googled it and froogled it and schmoogled it and cannot find one measly cardamom candle left in this world. Sadness. If anyone can find one for me I’ll marry you. Or at least reimburse you for it.

Alright its late and its been a long one. Peace out Monday. You can kick me but you can’t keep me down.

Sunday, November 16, 2008


About once a month we have dinner with a group of friends from our old neighborhood. We take turns hosting and this was our month so on Friday night everyone came over to our place. It is always fun to catch up with these folks who were gracious enough not to kick us out of the group when we moved. Its funny to think back over the last few years and see how much everyone has changed. Not everyone has kids at this point, but we have gone from only one couple having a little boy to having 4 toddlers, a baby and one on the way. It has definitely changed the way dinner looks. I had to laugh after the night was over at how the evening unfolded.

6:15 - Marlie throws a ballistic fit as Shane and I try to get her dressed and do last minute dinner things.

7:15 - Half way through dinner Marlie chokes on a tortilla chip (which we clearly shouldn’t have let her have and yes it was terrifying) and when I grab her to help she throws up all over the dining room floor as everyone watches from the dinner table.

7:20 As I’m cleaning it up I see these weird gelatinous chunks in it and freak out because it looks like she has eaten some pills or something so I’m yelling at the people eating dinner “Wait, did anyone have bath beads or gelcap medicine in their purse?!”

7:30 - After talking to Shane’s mom on the phone about what Marlie had for lunch I come in to announce in relief “Its OK, she had jello earlier.”

7:45 - When I finally sit down to eat and apologize about the puke fest I hear that the topic of conversation is baby poop.

8:00 - My friend Jen sitting next to me is trying to keep her little boy from spilling lemonade on the floor for the third time.

8:15 - Everyone except 3 of our friends head out the door with sleepy kids.

8:45 - My friend Katie who stayed says to me “Man we should probably go, we are keeping you guys up. What time is it anyway?” We laugh when I tell her its only 8:45.

Hmm. Not exactly how I had imagined the night going but still a good time. I love my South City dinner people.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Monkey Pants at 18 months

This last month I have been determined to set aside some time to do a real photo shoot of Monkey Pants. I do real planned out photo shoots for everyone else's kiddos but mine. So last week I bought her a little outfit at Lass and Laddie, this awesome shop in Kirkwood. Shane came home from work early and we set out for a shoot.

Marlie is definitely going through a stage where she does not like it when I have my camera out so it was pretty difficult to get some good shots, but we did.

I can't believe I got this shot. This is the face that Marlie makes when she gets scared or embarassed. She was looking at some doggies and one barked when she wasn't expecting it. Oh my goodness I want to hold her forever and make sure that face never happens ever again.

But this is how I will remember Monkey Pants at 18 months. Running arms wide, squealing with delight.

Oh Monkey, I love you to pieces.

Even when you give me the stink eye like this...

Which is is a lot.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

chocolate chocolate

Every fall I try not to think about Christmas until after Thanksgiving is over. I get annoyed with stores that graze over Thanksgiving and display all the Christmas stuff in September. I love fall. The sounds, the smells, the colors, the brisk feeling in the air. However, I can't help it this year. The last few days I have been thinking about Christmas like a giddy kid. Maybe its because I know Christmas means that Shane will be done with the semester, my busy season will be over, and the three of us will be in jammies making up for lost time. I keep thinking about the smell of pine, wrapping presents and decorating our new place. But, I have been trying hard to slow down and be happy right where I am so the pumpkin candles are still burning.

Today was busy with playing and working. It was a no shower until bedtime kind of day. The house is a mess and I'm not cleaning it tonight kind of day. And you know what? Thats OK. Instead of cleaning I made cupcakes. I didn't have time for both and I think I made the right choice. Chocolate cupcakes with chocolate icing with sprinkles because I don't bake very often anymore but when I do I don't mess around.

I am knocking out my editing as fast as I can so if you are waiting for photos they are coming. I promise! Here is the shoot I finished up tonight. Olga asked me to do her senior photos and met me down in my neighborhood last week.

I don't think she had any makeup on and she still looked this beautiful.

I'm jealous. I wish I could redo my senior photos. I was an ambassador for a studio where there were huge numbers and fake lockers. Just a note to you seniors out there. Be careful of what those places can talk you in to. Somewhere in the archives of that studio and in some box in my mom's basement is a photo of me and my high school boyfriend and his dog. Yikes. Thats good blackmail material.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

the big winner and catching up

Monkey Pants is asleep and I keep forgetting to have her draw a name while she is awake so I had Shane do it this time. I tried to convince him to at least wear his glasses and let me take a photo of him picking the winner, but he refused. Every party has a pooper.

Drum roll please... The winner of the color name collage is....


Congratulations Wendi! Shoot me an email and I will get your address.

Thanks for everyone who commented! Its always fun to see who is reading this thing.

And now I have some catching up to do. Here are a bunch of my favorite shots from last weeks mini shoot day with the Nolting Real Estate peeps ...

Nighty night.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Name Collages are...

Thats right folks we are offering name collages with color photos! That road trip that Beth and I took was to track down the coolest color letters we could find for this new product and by George I think we've done it! Some day I will have a better gallery to view all of the letters, but for now you can go here to check them out.

I've been looking for a way to spice things up around here in the collage department and if you ask me they are pretty...

And now for the goodies. Just for today (FRIDAY, not THURSDAY like the post date says) for my blog readers I am offering free shipping on signs. If you purchase a sign between the hours of 8:00 a.m and 8:00 p.m. today you can enter the coupon code 222 and get free shipping. That is a $10 value people. So, get on over there and order some Christmas presents.!

And last but not least I will be giving away a free color name collage to one lucky commenter. So, leave me a line and you just might win!

Tommorrow is the day

Thanks to my good buddies Anna and Micah for hanging out with Monkey Pants this morning so I can get some stuff done. I am sitting at Panera plugging away at some work and sipping my mocha. NICE.

Today I am working on that secret/not so secret project that Beth and I have been perfecting. I am close, VERY close to having it all ready to go. So people, tomorrow is the day. Check back in the morning for what the Big Fat Deal is anyway and a chance for a discount and maybe, yes maybe even a GIVEAWAY. Try not to wet your pants.

See ya tomorrow!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Take it to the limit.

Ok, here is how I know I am working too much...

1) I showed up to my dentist appointment last week a week early.

2) Marlie came up on the couch and sat on my key board to get my attention yesterday.

3) I went to the post office in my slippers last week.

4) You are up way too late if Oprah comes on for a second showing.

5) Twice last week at about 9:00 I realized I never ate dinner.

6) Today I got about two miles down the highway before looking back and seeing that I had not buckled Marlie in to her car seat. And that is not funny.

I am losing my marbles and I need them. So, friends that being said I am not going to take any more photo shoots in between now and Christmas. Unless you have mentioned it to me, or scheduled it then no more shoots. Sorry. I have to know my limit and I think I passed it a few shoots ago! I'll start booking for January though. Snow photos anyone?

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

To Do Today:

Get out (or stand in line for 1.5 hours) and vote...check

Play date with Betsy and Cia...check

Create and send out advertising email for Jen's new christmas card designs... check

Show my blog readers Jen's new awesome cards designs...


These are just a few of the great new cards that Jen came up with this year. There are FOURTEEN total to choose from. You can see all of the designs and order HERE. Christmas really will be here before you know it, so take a look and pick out a great card so send your friends and family!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

monkey and more minis

As promised here is monkey in action on Halloween night...
Playing with Tater (my mom's dog who was dressed as a bumble bee).

Running up to her first house. Somehow she knew just what to do...

And showing me her first piece of candy. She prefers her candy with the wrapper on...

Awe. I'm kind of sad its over. I guess I can put her in that monkey suit whenever I want right?

And now for more minis. Every year a local real estate company, Nolting Real Estate, offers two mini shoot days for their past clients. This year I was honored to be the photographer. Last Sunday we held shoots in Long View Farm Park and here are some of my favorites from the day...

Tomorrow I have seven more mini shoots for Nolting. Yikes! Tis the season for photos I guess.