I've got Answers, Part 1

I am loving all your questions that you guys asked on my Got Questions? post!
I didn't think I would get that many questions.
You guys are nosey...but that is okay, I am nosey, too :)
I am going to do the answers in a few parts, so here is Part 1!
(Sorry it has taken me so long to answer, I was busy this weekend with 3 photo shoots. I am a photo editing machine right now!)

I am going to answer the questions in the order they were received.
I got some repeat questions, so I will group those together!
Question #1:
We recently decided to start a veggie garden. Can you let me know what worked and did not work for you. Also any other tips?

This was the first year that we have planted a garden. Both our parents had gardens growing up & we knew we wanted one. So, last spring, Kevin built me 3 garden boxes. They are 4 feet by 8 feet & 1 foot deep. Pictures of what I planted are here. We also ordered dirt from a local nursery, they had a special veggie garden mix & I will definitely order it again next Spring when we plant our garden. We planted our veggies in early May & this past weekend we ripped out the garden, so it lasted about 6 months. I don't plant a winter garden, but want to next year.
As far as gardening tips, I would say to get good dirt and make sure your garden is placed in an area that gets lots of sun. Also, make sure you space out your plants. I was a little "over excited" about our garden & planted too much stuff! Once things started growing, it got really crowded in my garden boxes. My pumpkin & watermelon vines took over garden box#1.
Our biggest garden successes this year were our tomatoes (I planted 5 Early Girl plants, 2 cherry tomato plants & 2 yellow pear tomato plants) I had SO many tomatoes, it was great! Next year, I won't be planting any peppers. None of mine grew this year, I had 6 different varieties of peppers & got nothing. I guess peppers are fickle & hard to grow.
When I planted the garden, I literally went to the local nursery & just bought tons of plants, they were only $1, so I figured to give it a shot. Some of my favorite things we grew (besides the tomatoes) were watermelon, green onions, pumpkins, celery & pickling cucumbers. I am a rookie gardener & I am learning as I go! Good luck & have fun!

Question #2
Where is your favorite place to go on vacation? With kids or without kids?

My favorite place to go on vacation with kids would have to be Lake Tahoe. Lake Tahoe is my happy place (besides Target). We love going to Lake Tahoe as a family & go several times a year. This summer we went on our first "Real Family Vacation". Kevin's parents took all of us on the Disney Dream Cruise & that by far, was THE BEST vacation we have been on as a family.
(See my Disney posts here & here).
Someone else asked what was more relaxing, the Cruise or Disney World? The answer to that is the Disney Cruise!!!! I literally cried when we got off the boat. I wanted to stay on it longer. It was amazing.
My favorite place to go on vacation without kids is HAWAII.
I love, love, love Hawaii.
I first went to Hawaii (Oahu) with my parents & sisters when I was in college. Then, Kevin & I went to Maui on our Honeymoon and we went to Kauai in 2005 which was our "Babymoon" aka the last vacation we went on before we had kids. I can't wait to go back to Hawaii! Don't know when that is going to happen, but until then, I will be dreaming of Lava Flows & Hula Pie. Yum!

Question #3
What are your favorite blogs? Where do you buy Kate and Claire's clothes? What are your favorite recipes to make for your family?

My favorite blogs (I have too many to list, but here are 5 favorites!)
Joy's Hope
Enjoying the Small Things
Pioneer Woman

Where do I get the girls clothes?
TARGET! I would say that 95% of their clothes & shoes are from Target.
They have a couple of things from Old Navy & Carters, but Target is the place I go for their clothes. I refuse to pay a lot for their clothing because they are so hard on it & they are so picky. One week they like something, the next week they don't. So, Target it is. And, for the past several years, Target has adorable clothes for little girls!

Favorite Recipes?
Most of my favorite recipes are ones that I have posted here on my blog.
My favorite appetizer is - Blue Cheese Crack
Main Course is - Easiest Dinner Ever and Chicken Tortilla Soup
Favorite Breakfast is - Monkey Bread

Question #4
What's your most favorite things to do with your kids?

In the summer, my favorite thing to do with them is to swim. They love being in our pool and I love it also! My other favorite thing to do with my girls (especially in the Fall/Winter) is to bake. I love to cook & bake. I bake treats 1-2 times a week & both girls love helping me. I am glad that at a young age they are (hopefully) learning to love being in the kitchen.
Another favorite thing that I love to do with them is to take them on 1 on 1 dates so that they have individual time with me (or Kevin). We don't do this nearly enough, but I LOVE it when we get those moments.

Question #5
Are you going to have any more kids?

That is a great question. I am pretty sure we are done. But, we haven't done anything 100% to finalize that. Such a hard decision to make that final. We both come from families with 3 kids and liked that....but me & pregnancy are not friends...I get really, really, really sick and barf 2-3 times a day from 6 weeks until 22 weeks. I don't know if I can do that again!

Question #6
Where did you get that great turquoise necklace in the above pic?
I'd love to know where you got that beautiful outfit you have on in the picture above!

That is the outfit I wore to Blog Sugar.
(I gave my friend Jess my camera & had her take my picture with my cotton candy!)
I got the turquoise necklace in Spring 2010 in the Brass Plum section at Nordstrom.
I LOVE that necklace. And, it was only $12. I wear it a lot!
I got my shirt at Anthropologie. It is one of 3 things I have from Anthro. I love it & got it because I had an Anthro store credit!

Question #7
Do you have the 35mm 1.8 or 1.4 for your camera?
What is your favorite zoom lens?
My 50mm 1.8 just isn't wide enough for the tight indoor shots. Any recommendations? Our lighting isn't always the best. Oh, and I only do this as a hobby, so is there an "off" brand of lenses that you prefer?

What kind of camera & lenses do you have?

I have the Canon 35 mm 2.0 lens. I love it!! I use that & my 5omm 1.4 95% of the time.
I don't have a favorite zoom lens....for the past year I have only used fixed lenses (50 mm 1.4 and 35 mm 2.0) When we go on vacation or to an event, I do bring my 28-135 lens so that I can zoom, etc. But, I don't love that lens. It is okay. I am just loving the fixed lenses right now!
I don't have any suggestions for off brand lenses. All my lenses are Canon, I haven't personally used an off brand before. But, I have friends who use Tamron (off brand) and they love them!
I am one of those brand loyal people & will always buy Canon :)

I have the Canon 50D camera. I got it 2 years ago. Love it....thinking about upgrading to the 5D, but need to save money for that first! Before the 50D, I had the Canon Rebel xti. That was a great camera also.
Here are all the lenses that I have:
Canon 18-55mm
Canon 75-300mm
Canon 28-135mm
Canon 55-200 mm
Canon 35 mm 2.0
Canon 50 mm 1.4

But honestly, I use the 50 mm & 35 mm almost 100% of the time!

Question #8
What design program do you use for your cupcake toppers?
I would love to know how you make all your paper design?
Do you make them all yourself or use templates?
How do you edit your pictures and what do you use?

The answers to all of the above questions is that I use Photoshop CS3.
For my cupcake toppers, labels & invites, I don't use templates, I just create my own in photoshop.
I edit my photos in Photoshop also. I don't edit all photos, just some of them. Most of the editing I do is enhancing the brightness & adjusting colors.

Question #9
How much did Claire's birthday party cost? (money AND hours spent making stuff)

This is a great question....I honestly have no idea. Ha!
Let me first say that we don't give our girls birthday presents....their party IS their present.
(My thoughts on this are that they won't remember what we got them for their "blank" birthday, but they will remember the experience of the party. Well, at least I hope so)
My other "justification" for throwing them big parties is that it doesn't come out of our family bank account. Kevin is not a fan of the big parties. He would rather just do a small family party and call it a day. But me? I love, love, love, love planning parties and executing them.
The money I make from photography & my Etsy shop is my "discretionary" money and I use that account for party stuff.

Back to the question...I had been planning this party in my head since January of last year.
So, when I would see something that I could use for the party, I would buy it.
But, I will try and break down some of the cost for you!
The pony rental was $125
The hats ($1.50 each) & bandannas ($.60 each) I got at Oriental Trading Company.
Hay Bales were Rented for $2 each
All the table cloths were actually twin bed sheets from my girls rooms!
The wagon wheel was a clearance item from Big Lots & was $7
I got flowers at the Farmers Market for $10
The frame was a clearence item at Michaels that was $8 & I spray painted it with pink spray paint that I already had.
I got the pie tins from a bulk restaurant supply store, and they were only $.10 each
The cowgirl boots were $10 each on clearance at Target.
The girls cowgirl hats were from Fair this summer & they were $10 each.
I got vintage fabric on etsy for the cookie jars for $12 (and still have tons left over)
The food/drinks were a bulk of the cost (I probably spent about $200 on food/drinks) but family members (my mom, sisters & mother in law bought and made some of the food/drinks for the party, so that helped cut down my cost)

And, my friend Heather made the pony cookies for me and let me borrow TONS of her stuff that she had from her sister in law's wedding (burlap, drink containers, mason jars, baskets, containers, bunting, chalkboards, corn hole game, photo props. That was a HUGE cost savings!) She also made the Larson Ranch sign & Claire's County Store sign for free because she is a good friend! :)

Some of the supplies I already had in my craft supplies, like the twine, pom poms, clothes pins, ribbons, sticks for cupcake toppers & Smores Pops & cardstock.
I made all the printables for the party (cupcake toppers, food labels & signs) so that didn't cost anything.
How much time did I spend on the party? A LOT of HOURS.
But, I love it!
I did most of the party planning in the summer when I was off school & I would do all the crafting for it at night when the girls were in bed.

Question #10
I would love to know any photography tips and/or blogging tips you have from your own experience.

Photography tips would be...Get off auto & start shooting in AV or Manual!
Practice, Practice, Practice!!!! Play around with your settings. Don't be scared to shoot in manual...it will change your life :)
In terms of blogging tips, I would say... Be yourself!
Blog about what you love. Visit other blogs. Comment on other blogs. Respond to people's comments to your blogs (I need to get better at this!!!!!)

So, there is Part 1 of the answers....I will do Part 2 and Part 3 later!


  1. My 35 is my favorite lens too! Fun post Mel.

  2. I was the one with the garden question...thank you

  3. i cannot even hardly walk into the brass plum jewelry section because i most likely will not walk out empty handed.

    and i have been sick since week 3 and we're going on 17 and i don't know if i can do this again. :(

  4. Great post! Thanks for the informative and helpful answers. I certainly got a little inspiration from reading this :)

  5. What a fun post! These sort of posts make a great way for followers to get to know you more & your great. Thanks for sharing! :)

    Also, your friend Heather rocks.

  6. Awesome Q&A. Thanks for the great advice on photography and camera lenses. So fun to get to know you more. I adore your blog!

  7. Sinks have large basins and are usually deep and rectangular. They can be under mounted, wall mounted or recessed in a sink stand. They can be made from cast iron like as claw foot tub.

  8. Such a fun post! I'm new to your blog and enjoying getting to know more about you. Looking forward to the next installment!

  9. Hi Mel!
    Wow you got some cuh-razy questions! I've thought about doing a post like this too, but I am afraid I'd get nothing. lol
    thanks for answering my lens Q! I think the 35mm is going to be my next new baby.

  10. This comment has been removed by the author.

  11. I love getting to know you better, Mel! You are precious!

  12. so fun!

    i would love to pick your brain about the disney cruise/disney world trip. we are thinking of taking the kids this spring. any tips or advice... i would love it!

  13. I started on COPD Herbal treatment from Ultimate Life Clinic, the treatment worked incredibly for my lungs condition. I used the herbal treatment for almost 4 months, it reversed my COPD. My severe shortness of breath, dry cough, chest tightness gradually disappeared. Reach Ultimate Life Clinic via their website www.ultimatelifeclinic.com . I can breath much better and It feels comfortable!

  14. Cowgirl hat costumes are the perfect way to complete a western-themed Halloween look. This classic costume accessory is ideal for both adults and children alike, so it's easy to find the right size for everyone.



Blog Widget by LinkWithin