Category Archives: DIY

How to take family photos with your dog

Several people have asked us how we manage to get such great pictures of us with our dog without having someone behind the camera. So I thought I would share some of our trademark moves for getting great shots. 🙂

family photos with dog

I should begin this by acknowledging that some of you have very well trained dogs who will sit and stay exactly where you tell them to until you give them a release command making photo-taking a piece of cake. This post is not as much for you, haha! Our dog will sit and stay as long as he is facing us (because that’s how we trained him). Which is great for nearly all circumstances… except when we are trying to take photos and want him to face away from us (and toward the camera). So here are some of our solutions:

1. The absolutely ideal situation for us would be to have an actual photographer (someone behind the camera) and a second person who could stand just outside the frame of the photo to keep Oreo’s attention. However, since that’s not always possible, we’ve begun to learn the ins and outs of using a tripod and remote for our little family photo sessions. I cannot recommend them highly enough. Timers are great on cameras if all your subjects are adults, but if you add children or pets – having a remote that can take photo-after-photo without having to run back and forth to the camera is such a time saver!

tripod and remoteOur remote and tripod. The tripod is a 72″ Velbon 5000 which belonged to Christopher when he was a teen. It’s an amazing tripod! Great quality especially compared to some of the inexpensive ones we’ve bought and subsequently broken.

2. Wear clothes you are comfortable in, but also that you don’t mind getting a little fur on. Chances are good at least one of you will end up wrangling the dog at some point which will result in fur on a shirt/dress. It’s not likely to show up in photos (at least it never has for us), but you want to be sure you aren’t wearing something that needs to be dry cleaned.

family picFor this particular photo session we chose machine-washable summery clothes that would go with Oreo’s seersucker bow tie.

3. Lots of treats. Oreo is highly food motivated so we try to reward him as much as possible with treats while taking photos. We want family photos to be a fun thing for him.

family picNotice the remote in one hand and the treat in another and Oreo very ready to do whatever it takes to get that treat!

4. Be prepared to take LOTS of pictures. During this particular photo shoot we took 137 photos and ended up with 6 great ones. One of us will get in position with the remote while the other gets the dog into position. Whoever has the remote begins snapping photos even before everyone is in position. So you end up with tons of photos, but that also means that the very moment when everyone is in place and smiling – you get the shot!

family picChristopher putting Oreo in a sit position while I pose and begin taking pictures so the second Christopher turns to the camera, we’ll get the shot! (ps. I love how Oreo is “smiling” in this one!)

5. Let the dog take a break or two to play. With Oreo we usually have his attention for about 10 minutes before he needs a break then he’s ready to go again. He always lets us know when he’s tired of photos as you can see here:

family pic “I just want to play!”

6. Be flexible. You may have a specific pose in mind that ends up not being as cute as you first thought. Just have fun with it. This is how we end up with some of my very favorite shots. For example, this shot just kind of happened:

family pic

So for those of you who have somewhat unruly pups, these are our favorite suggestions! Good luck with all your photo taking! 🙂

family picFrom our family to yours with love!
Love Rach

Homemade Laundry Detergent

Now let’s jump from talking about Christmas straight to Spring Cleaning! 😉 Today’s high is 58 and later this week it will be nearly 70! YAY! That sure sounds like spring to me. I am definitely not a cold weather kinda girl so I love this! Granted, it will go back to freezing again, but I’m not one to complain about the yo-yoing weather when it means I get to have warm sunshine in January. 😉 So in honor of our brief warm weather, I thought it was time to share my favorite DIY cleaning product. 🙂

I feel certain most of you (or at least those of you on Pinterest) have seen the DIY Laundry Detergent by How Does She. So for those of you who haven’t gotten around to making it yet – you really should! We’ve been using it since last spring and it has saved us quite a bit in laundry detergent costs! And if you are worried about cleaning power – don’t be. This stuff leaves even my husband’s smelliest gym clothes nice and fresh! 🙂

Homemade Laundry Detergent 


1 (4 lb 12 oz) box of Borax (found in detergent aisle)
1 (3 lb 7 oz) box of Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda (found in detergent aisle)
2 (14.1 oz) bars of Fels Naptha (found in detergent aisle)
2 (2 lb) boxes of Arm & Hammer Baking Soda (found in cooking aisle)

Optional Ingredients:

1 (3 lb) container of OxyClean (found in the detergent aisle): We actually did not add this to our laundry detergent because it isn’t safe for all fabrics (like wool). So we keep it in a separate container and just add a small scoop of it to heavy loads (gym clothes, pet stuff, etc).

1 -2 (55 oz) bottle of Purex Crystals Fabric Softener (found in the detergent aisle): We did not add this the first time we made the detergent, but did add it this last time. To be totally honest, I don’t notice much (if any) difference in scent or softness to our laundry.


Grate the soap. Then mix all ingredients together in giant bucket. We actually half this recipe when we make it just so we don’t have to store a huge amount of detergent so all the ingredients fit in my biggest kitchen mixing bowl. To use, add 1 – 2 tbsp per load of laundry! 🙂

Easy peasy lemon squeezy. I have several friends who have made this same detergent and love it as well. It cleans well and truly saves so much money on detergent (especially for those of us who were somewhat picky about detergents in the first place, haha)! 🙂
Love Rach

Roll Tide Roll & Chicken Spaghetti

{scroll down for recipe}

I’ll be honest, I’m not the biggest football fan. Christopher and I are more basketball fans (yay March Madness!!), but if I had to pick a college team that I support… it would definitely be Alabama’s Crimson Tide. We went to A Day in Tuscaloosa last year and ever since, we have officially been Bama fans. So in honor of football season beginning, I made a cute little hangy-thing (yes, that is the technical term, haha) for our front door!

It’s amazing what you can do with some burlap and paint. 🙂

In other news, one of my girls requested “Rotel Chicken” for dinner this week. Growing up we called this “chicken spaghetti” and it usually had olives, mushrooms, and water chestnuts in it that I would inevitably pick out. 😉 So this week, I made straight “Rotel Chicken” just like Kelsi requested without all the extra “grown up” additions.

Ps. Kelsi is adorable. Wanna see?

By the way, Kelsi reads this blog. Hi Kelsi! 😉

Anyway, on to the recipe!

Chicken Spaghetti


12 oz spaghetti noodles
3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cooked and chopped
1 lb Velveeta
1 can Rotel
2 cups cheddar cheese, shredded


1. Boil pasta in water, drain and set aside.

2. Dice Velveta and melt in a saucepan over medium heat. Add rotel and mix. Mix in cooked chicken. Combine with pasta.

3. Pour into 9×13″ greased pan and top with shredded cheese. Bake covered for 20 minutes at 375.

Optional Ingredients: mushrooms, olives, and water chestnuts

Happy almost weekend, friends! 🙂