Thursday, November 7, 2019

Time Saving Hacks I use for my life and business

Here's the deal. I'm busy.. Like to the point that the word "busy" is part of my usual self-description.

"She's super busy"
"I'm super busy"
"Life's so busy"

I'm busy for a lot of reasons and many of them are my choices but I find myself without much time left for Laziness or freedom or anything else really.  The fact is, I have 3 little humans, a dog and a cat that I am responsible for 80% of the time.  I am constantly preparing meals, cleaning, doing the laundry, making lists, shopping, scheduling appointments, paying bills, driving kids to and from activities, playdates, PTO meetings, etc. On top of all of that, I run a full-time business and volunteer with 3 other organizations. So "busy" sort of defines me...

I don't want to come off as a complainer because I am actually very happy and super grateful that I'm able to do all of these things. I also know that this is only a season of my life. I will not always be this busy and someday I might miss the "busyness" of being a mom.

Sometimes though, I really feel like I'm just in survival mode. Like my entire house was taken over my psychotic little monkeys who yell at me. (Really they just yell "mom, mom, mom, mom" like a billion times a day)  Mind you, I'm writing this at the end of summer vacation and I'm so ready for my kids to be back in school.

When I'm feeling stressed out sometimes, rather than yelling,  I crank up the music and start singing and dancing around my kitchen until they are so embarrassed they leave me alone.  Have I gone completely batshit crazy or am I just really winning at being a mom?

My house is also the "hangout." We have the kid house, where all the kids come to play and eat popsicles. Sometimes it's actually easier to have all the extra kids just so that my boys won't fight with each other.  

People say to me all the time "I don't know how you do it all"

I must seem like I really have it all together.

Honestly, I'm just winging it.
All of it; Parenting, wife-ing, being a business owner. I'm not an expert at any of it.. I'm just trying and learning as I go and although I give out super awesome advice and have really good ideas sometimes I also have no f@#%ing clue what I'm doing.

When people say to me "I don't know how you do it" I answer back "I don't either... "

The fact is, I don't do everything.
Sometimes I have a mountain of laundry on "the chair" in my master bedroom.

or I feed my kids Macdonalds in the car because it's fast, cheap and at least they might be quiet for a few minutes while they eat.

Judge me....  I'm sure I could do far worse things a parent.

What I have realized though being a very busy person and wanting to do more, is that I am obsessed with tools and hacks that make my life easier as a parent and business owner. These tools are really how I am able to do all the things and not be super stressed out. Yes I am busy, way too busy to do everything all the time so I rely on a ton of services, tools and things to help me stay productive, organized and less stressed. By using some of these tools I've freed up time that I spent doing things I didn't really enjoy doing and it allows me to have more time with my kids, volunteering and running my business.

Here are a few of things that help me do it all. Let me know in the comments some of your favorite life hacks for managing a business and a busy family.

For Business:

Plugins/Extensions for Google Chrome:

Stay Focused: "StayFocusd increases your productivity by limiting the amount of time that you can spend on time-wasting websites."  
So I literally block sites from my self between certain hours of the day so that I won't be distracted when I should be working. (I block Facebook, Pinterest, Amazon, Target, etc.)

Auto Text Expander:  "Create custom keyboard shortcuts to expand and replace text as you type!"

I use this a ton, especially when responding to pricing inquiries, sending directions and adding hashtags to my Instagram posts. 

For example, someone asks me for my address. I have a shortcut saved in this plugin so instead of typing out my entire address-- I type  addrss1 and BOOM!  {1111 NE 11th street LALA Land}  my address appears automatically.   It's a huge time saver if you are tired of typing out the same exact messages over and over.

There is also Text replacement for Iphones and another app called Text Expander that works the same on your phone. It's pretty awesome.

Grammarly: OMG! It's a game-changer. Why? because I am a super-fast typer and I make a lot of errors. When my kids are yelling at me and I'm trying to bust out a blog post, social media post or email response and in a hurry, Grammarly has my back. No matter where I'm typing it's there to correct and highlight my spelling and grammar mistakes so I don't look like a fool when I put it out there to the public.

“It’s an online service that quickly and easily makes your writing better and makes you sound like a pro, or at least helps you avoid looking like a fool.”

Calendly: I use this when I'm super busy and want to skip the back and forth of scheduling. I put in my schedule and when I'm available and then send it to clients so they can book one of the available spots that work for them. You can use it for scheduling just about anything.

Planoly:  I love Planoly because it helps me see what my Instagram grid will look like before I schedule the posts. It's an awesome tool for posting to Instagram.

I can't say enough good things about 17 hats. It has changed my life and business. It is a super easy, user-friendly way of keeping all things business organized and accessible from your phone or computer. I've eliminated paper contracts and invoices and have streamlined client communications using 17 hats. I highly recommend if you have a business to check it out and see what it can do for you!

For Family stuff:

Google express: 2 day delivery from tons of different stores including Costco. All the heavy things I don't have time or energy to shop for (especially if I have to bring kids) delivered right to my door. It's so easy and amazing!

Instacart: delivery service for groceries and all sorts of other stuff! It's the best, it saves me so many hours of shopping and I don't have to bring kids with me or buy random toys just to survive the shopping trip.  use my code and get $10 off GBCC4FF17C

Fred Meyer Clicklist: I use click list weekly. I have my grocery list online. I can shop the sales and schedule a time to have it loaded right in the back of my car.

Online Bill Pay: yeah who mails checks? Talk to your bank and set up auto payments. Saves so much energy and will make your life more efficient.

Food Delivery: Yes from all my favorite restaurants. Have you ever been at home with a million kids and your like dang I really wish I had some pad thai but you didn't want to load up your bunch to go get it and you're so tired of chicken nuggets and mac n cheese?... yeah me too like all the time. That's why I love these delivery services.

Try Grub hub and get $12 off your first order!! SAY WHAT?? 

Doordash is awesome too and I use this to order dinners from so many of our local favorite resturants. 
($10 off each of your first 3 orders).

 Also Uber eats will give you $5 off or a free ride when you sign up.

Freezer Meals: I've got a bunch of recipes pinned on Pinterest and I've tried out a few of my own. Freezer meals can be a lifesaver during the busy season for work or baseball season with my boys.

Instant Pot is life!!
I love my instapot. I have made so many wonderful family dinners quickly with this little gem! It's totally changed my life. If you don't own one yet you've got to get one! Those days where you don't know what to cook becuase everything is frozen... This will save you. You can make a post-roast from frozen to melt in your mouth in just 1 hour. It's insane!! I've made curry, spaghetti, chicken and dumplings, Tacos, and so much more in this and I rarely ever use my crockpot anymore. This thing is a totally game-changer for busy families.

There are so many things I use to run my life, house, and business effeiciantly. What are some tools you can't live without? let me know! :) 

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Country Wedding in Carson, WA

  • David's Bridal
  • The first shopping trip, the 3rd dress I tried on :) When I walked out, there were happy tears from myself, my mom and my sister. It was just perfect.
    • Janis Knapp, my second mom and the maid of honors mother
    • Country chic wooden and rustic, farm-style and outdoors Timeline in colors: grey, ivory accents with peaches, mauves, and oranges with flowers Cowboy boots
    • Grey, mauve, and ivory
    • DJ Glenn with Sound Foundation Media Group
    • Mount Hood BBQ
    • Juli Hamilton
    • LGS Events
    • Designs to Flourish
    • Who is doing your hair and makeup?
    • Stellar Designs - Annie Ephlin for hair; Lash & Lox Special Event for makeup

Vancouver, WA wedding photographyWedding inspiration Vancouver,WA
The best photo bombers ever!! COWS! 
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Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Local Summer fun for families in Clark County WA

The summer comes and goes so fast. This year our family has been compiling a summer bucket list of local events and activities to keep us busy all summer long. From Movies and concerts in the park to local parks and swimming spots. We have quite a list of adventures and we hope you can use these ideas to keep your family busy this summer too!

6 to sunset: Evening Concerts in the park.

noon rhythms Summertime concerts in the park at noon on Wednesdays at Estershort park in downtown Vancouver.

Movies in the park: A different park and a different movie every Friday night!

$1 movies Say what?!?! We love going to movies but they can get pretty spendy! As often as we like to go it's nice to save a few bucks at the theater. Treat your kids and maybe a few of their friends to $1 movies at participating Regal Cinemas on Tuesday and Wednesday mornings throughout the summer. They play previously released family-friendly movies but it's still just as much fun; watching them on the big screen.

Check out a neighborhood park: Lately my family and I will just go on google and find a nearby park that we've never been to and go check it out. Each time we go we explore a new place in our city that we've never seen before! It's super fun and I'm always amazed by our city and county's beautiful parks.

Kids bowl free: We love to go bowling but a day at Big Als can be pretty pricy for my family of 5. We love Kids Bow Free because it's exactly that! Kids can bowl 2 free games every day in the summer at the bowling alley of your choice. Just rent your shoes! The adults can also bowl 2 games a day for a 1-time fee of about $30 for the entire summer and you can add your grandparents onto your account so they can bowl too! Yes, that's 4 adults for about $30-- 2 games per day all summer!  What a deal?! Right? We chose Big Als for our bowling location and they also offer a shoe pass for $15! It's $15 per person for the entire summer! A couple of games and it totally pays for itself! Make sure you download the app and sign up here: Kids bowl free

Pearson Air Museum: Y'all it's free. Go spend an hour learning about the history of the Pearson airfield. The park rangers are super friendly and they will love sharing the junior ranger program with you to help you earn a badge for your kids.

Fort Vancouver: Free for kids $10 for adults. It's super affordable and an amazing piece of history right in our backyard! You can tour the fort and learn about PNW history.

Fort Vancouver Regional Library: The library has all sorts of summer activities going on at their different locations. Storytimes, crafts, special presentations, clowns, etc. check out their events calendar for some free family fun.

Alderbrook Park: You can swim, use pedal boats in the pond, bouncy houses, playgrounds, walking trails, horseshoes, concessions, beer, lemonade drinking fountains and more!
On Wednesdays in July and August, they have Movies in the park. We had a blast bringing our whole family to hang out and play and then watch a movie under the stars.

Chuck E. Cheese: They have some sweet weekday deals on Tuesdays and Wednesdays and usually have some decent coupons on their website. Don't worry it's not too crowded if you go early in the day.

Pool fun:

Camas Municipal Pool
Daily public swim: 11:15 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 3:15 p.m. to 5 p.m. until Sept. 1. Swim lessons are available.
Information: 360-816-1556 or

Free family swim: 4:45 to 6:30 p.m. every Saturday.

Summer Public swim: 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., 1 to 3:30 p.m., 4 to 5:30 p.m. and 6 to 7:30 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday. 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and 1 to 3:30 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday. 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., 12:45 to 2:30 p.m. and 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Saturday. Noon to 1:30 p.m., 1:45 to 3:30 p.m. and 4 to 5:30 p.m. Sunday.

Public swim: 1:30 to 3:30 p.m., Monday through Friday and 11 a.m. to 1:15 p.m. Friday.

Another fun one my kid's look forward to every year is the Clark County Fair

A little bit further away but still a fun time close to home:

Oaks Amusement Park:

North Clackamas Aquatic Park:

Wunderland Nickel Arcade:

Dave and Busters:

Mt.hood Ski Bowl:

I'll likely keep adding to this list but what are some of your go tos for keeping the kids busy during the summer?

Saturday, June 1, 2019

Family Portrait session with The "M" family

  • 14 years
  • I was 17, a junior in high school. My best friend wanted “hook me up” with a guy her senior boyfriend worked with...when we met he brought a friend and instead I fell instantly, madly in love with him as he bit a beer cap off a glass bottle in the parking lot of the Salmon Creek Taco Bell. They had just came from a Blazer game, my parents were out with their friends so we hung out at my house until 4-5am! I told my best friend that night/morning after they’d left that I was gonna marry that guy (Dallas)...not the guy I was supposed to “hook up” with!! Hahahaaa! ....and MAN....I wouldn’t have it any other way!
  • His pretty bright blue eyes and his smile when he genuinely laughs! His snuggles put me to sleep at night and he’s the BEST father to our 3 crazy creatures we created together!
  • 3
  • yes
  • Deal with each other. Do our best helping each other realizing mistakes instead of burdening one another? Compliment each other. Our number one rule is to always kiss each other goodnight!
  • Take time for yourselves, don’t be afraid to. Don’t be afraid to speak up and do your best to tell your feelings good and bad, communication is extremely important!
  • That you have a best friend, someone is always there for you 24/7- For any occasion!
  • Tara has photographed us since our oldest was a tiny little toddler. She knows our family a little bit and really knew what to say and do to capture the best of our true family personality! We really needed this family time together, I can’t thank her enough for making this happen!

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Portland Wedding at Adrianna Hill Grand Ballroom

Wedding Date: 04-05-2019


Venue, Catering, and Decor:
Adrianna Hill Grand Ballroom

Nothing Bundt Cake

  • Vintage/Classy
  • Ivory, Blue, Burgundy, Champagne - Gold accents
This wedding was special to me because I went to middle school with the bride! Seriously, it was such an honor that she even considered me to be her photographer. S and B got married on a rainy spring day in Portland, Oregon at the Adrianna Hill Grand Ballroom. It was a lovely day to celebrate with family and friends.
It rained that day and we had a lucky break with just enough time to do a few romantics and bridal party shots outside.

Here are some of my favorites from the Grant Wedding in Downtown Portland OR.

Just for fun silly faces: