Category Archives: Oreo

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

Taco Soup and Homemade Seasonings

For all those recipes that call for a “ranch packet” or a “taco seasoning packet” and you cringe when you sprinkle in that packet of preservatives and sodium… fear not! You have another option! 🙂  A couple of years ago I came across a taco seasoning recipe from AllRecipes and have used it ever since. It seems like a lot of spices, but you more than likely already  have all of these spices in your kitchen!

homemade taco seasoningHomemade Taco Seasoning: 1 tbsp chili powder, 1/4 tsp garlic powder, 1/4 tsp onion powder, 1/8 tsp crushed red pepper flakes, 1/4 tsp oregano, 1/2 tsp paprika, 1 1/2 tsp cumin, 1/2 tsp salt, 1 tsp black pepper. 

And since I have had such success with the homemade taco seasoning, I decided to give the homemade ranch mix from $5 Dinners a try. I’m glad I did! Again, it was just spices I already had in my cupboard and as always I love knowing exactly what goes into my food. 🙂 

homemade ranch mixHomemade Ranch Mix: 2 tbsp dried parsley, 1 tsp dried dill, 1 tsp garlic powder, 1 tsp onion powder, 1/2 tsp dried basil, and 1/2 tsp black pepper.

And you know what delicious meal you can make with a taco seasoning packet and a ranch seasoning packet? Taco Soup! 🙂

taco soup

Taco Soup


1 lb lean ground beef
1 onion, minced
1 (16oz) package frozen corn kernals
2 (15oz) cans pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1 (15oz) can black beans, drained and rinsed
2 (14.5oz) can no-salt-added diced tomatoes
1 (14.5oz) can Italian style diced tomatoes
1 envelope taco seasoning (see above for our substitute!)
1 envelope ranch seasoning (again, see above for our substitute!)
salt and pepper to taste


Brown ground beef and minced onion together in large stock pot. Drain excess fat. Put meat mixture back into stock pot and add all other ingredients. Bring to boil then lower heat to let simmer for at least 15 minutes.

Also, I just realized that I never showed you guys the two cutest Valentine’s cards I got this year! First up, from Paisley:

valentine baby feetIs that not precious? Her little feet in the shape of a heart! I just love it!

And from one of my besties, Courtney, who has a soft spot for rescue dogs and understands my love for my pup…

valentineIt’s the PITs without you… Oh so cute! Speaking of sweet little pitbull pups…

Oreo Sun BathingHe is loving all this sunshine lately. Basking in the glow! 🙂

Happy Tuesday, friends!

Love Rach

Potato Soup and a Piano Playing Dog

So apparently I’ve been in a soup making mood lately. All this cold weather has me craving warm and hearty dinners. 🙂 Chicken & Rice soup, Beef Stew, and last night… Potato Soup! This is actually my mom’s potato soup recipe that I grew up eating. I tweaked it just slightly by switching out the milk with unsweetened almond milk so it would be more friendly for my tummy. And you know what… you really couldn’t tell. None of my girls or Christopher even noticed! Granted, they had theirs loaded with tons of cheese and bacon so that might have masked the almond milk, haha! It’s not technically “dairy free” since it does have some butter in it, but actual butter doesn’t bother my tummy as much as other dairy. You could probably use earth balance “butter” if you wanted this to be totally dairy free. 🙂 Anyway, enough talking… more recipe!

Potato Soup

Potato Soup

6 large potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
2 cups chicken broth
4 cups water
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp flour
1 cup unsweetened almond milk (or of course you could use regular milk as well)

Optional: salt, pepper, crushed red pepper flakes, cheese, bacon, and sour cream


1. Cook potatoes in water and broth with ½ tsp salt (about 10 minutes). Remove from heat and mash a few of the potatoes until preferred consistency, but leave most of potatoes in chunks.

2. In small saucepan melt butter. Whisk in flour to form roux. Add milk and cook until slightly thickened, whisking often. Add milk mixture to potatoes.

3. Serve with salt, pepper, crushed red pepper flakes, cheese, bacon, and sour cream.

On a completely unrelated note… last night we were getting ready for bed when we heard a key play on our piano. Confused, I walked into the room we keep the piano in and this is what I saw:

Oreo and the pianoGuilty face, much?

Happy Friday, friends!
Love Rach