Food Styling – Campaign Photography with Sears Grilling #GrillingisHappiness #SoFabU


This week’s class theme was food styling and photography.  Our lesson was intense, and long, but extremely useful.

There is just entirely too much information to share here in one blog post, so I’ll fill you in on a few basics.

Styling your food is important.

Lighting is important.

Background is important.

Props are important.

Restaurants know this, and folks who make commercials know this, and folks who put pictures of food in publications know this.

I know this too, but it’s hard.  Plus, it takes a lot of planning.  Time I didn’t have this week.

Nonetheless, I learned a great deal and I can’t wait to continue playing around with my plating.

I realize I have quite a ways to go, but I am still happy with my progress.  While I did try to get properly styled food, I was still trying to focus on getting a good quality picture.

I promised myself I wouldn’t point out all the flaws in my blog post, so I’m just going to put my photos below.

True Confessions:  I am a member of the Collective Bias™ Social Fabric® Community.  This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias™ and Sears #CBias #GrillingIsHappiness. All photos and opinions are my own.

August 2, 2012


Babydoll made a “balance beam” after watching the Olympics.

Sweet Critique: Moo Kitty Finds a Home

Moo Kitty

Photo Credit

Most of my life I’ve never been a fan of cats.  Not sure why, but it probably had something to do with the fact that I was allergic to them.

Then, we were asked to take in a kitty that couldn’t move with its owners.  I didn’t want to.  Until I saw a picture of the cat, that is.

The cat we took in was our Princess, and I have loved her ever since.

After Princess, we got Winston, our dog.

Between the two of them, they’ve converted me to a full-blown animal lover.  Well, at least of the two of them.

As I became more involved as a pet owner, I quickly realized how many homeless pets there were.  Sometimes it’s not intentional, other times it is.

Like it or not, it’s a reality of life.  I’m about exposing my daughter to the realities of life {in an age-appropriate way, of course} because I feel it better prepares her for how to handle these things.

For this reason, I absolutely love Moo Kitty Finds a Home, by Valerie Lee Veltre.

How can you not love a book that has beautiful illustrations, a great {and never done before?} story, and an extensive educational section that helps readers choose homeless kitties?

The story is great.  It is interesting, thoughtful, yet easy enough for any age to understand.  I’m not going to lie:  I got a little sad for Moo Kitty.  You can’t help but get emotionally involved with this book.

The author did a great job of keeping the information basic enough so that your child won’t be traumatized by some really sad experiences that Moo Kitty could have had.

While I did love the story, I think my favorite part was the back of the book.  Veltre gives the reader great information on why it’s a great idea to adopt an older cat, tips for adopting an older cat, and help with the selection and settling in process.

I think this is a phenomenal way to educate your child about a problem in our society, and then help them take action to make some change in the world around them.

And while this isn’t a huge thing for some people, I love the quality of this book.  It’s a good size book, just the size you picture when you think about sitting with your kids and reading a story.  The pages are thick and smooth and I just love the way it feels!

I think this is a great book to share with your kids; Babydoll really enjoyed it.

Want to learn more about Moo Kitty?  Check out Facebook and Twitter!

True Confessions:  I was provided with a complimentary copy of this book to facilitate my review.  All opinions are my own.


TOS Sweet Critique: Zane Education


WHAT:  Zane Education

COST:  Free {for demo versions of the videos}, $8.99/month {all videos in one subject}, $12.99/month {all videos in a grade}, $17.99/month {all videos}; yearly pricing available as well

RECOMMENDED AGES:  Kindergarten to adult



Zane Education is a site dedicated to providing subtitled videos on a variety of subjects.

The site has thousands of videos for hundreds of subjects such as music, art, history, and science.

Zane uses what they call The Missing Piece ©, which is the use of subtitles in the videos to enhance understand and learning.

In addition to the subtitled videos, Zane provides quizzes, encyclopedias, dictionaries, lesson plans, and more to enhance the material.


We’re a big fan of educational videos in our house.  Babydoll enjoys watching them, and I love knowing that she’s learning at the same time.

I also think they do a great job of driving home a concept or new material.

Zane has taken this concept a step further with their subtitles, and there’s one key aspect of this I love:  the direction on how to use them.

The idea of having your child watch and listen, then just watch {and read the subtitles, without sound}, and then teach it back to you is genius!

I would think this could be a great thing for a reluctant learner, as it would be more fun than a traditional report.

Also, it gives children practice with public speaking, presentations, and more.  Good stuff!

I appreciate the lesson plans and quizzes, although we really wouldn’t make much use of those.  Videos are more for learning enhancement in our house, as opposed to the actual lesson.

For many homeschoolers, though, this complete solution would be great; you have everything you need to cover an entire subject there in Zane.

I’d like to point out one thing: I probably wouldn’t let my child have at these videos without supervision.  For instance, there is a “Health and Sex Education” section that I wouldn’t want my nine year old to stumble upon.

I understand the reasoning behind having it there, but that’s something I wouldn’t want anyone else covering with my child.  If you control the videos watched, it won’t be a problem.


Find out what other members of the Crew thought about Zane Education by clicking the banner below!


True Confessions:  I was provided with a Gold membership to Zane Education to facilitate my review.  All opinions are my own.

This is my last TOS Crew review.  While I have enjoyed my time on the Crew, it is time for me to step down and focus on other things in my life that need attention right now.  I am grateful for all the wonderful opportunities the Crew has provided me with, and perhaps some day, if they’ll have me, I can return.


Let Me Tell You ‘Bout the Birds and the Bees #KotexMom


No, not quite that talk.  But really, this talk eventually leads to that talk.

If you have a daughter, you’ll have this talk.

At some point, in some fashion, you’ll have this talk.

It may be in-depth and comfortable, or it may be short and awkward.

Yes, I’m talking about the period talk.

I feel fairly comfortable with my daughter, and we do discuss pretty much anything under the sun.

Even still, I still feel that twinge of “Oh crap!” whenever I think about having this discussion with her.

How do we make it easier?  Here are three tips to help ease you into the discussion.


Have you ever had to give a presentation?  Wasn’t it much easier to do when you were properly prepared?

This talk with your daughter is no different.  If it’s difficult for you to discuss this with her {and really, even if it’s not}, educate yourself.

Know the facts surrounding first periods, know what changes will be happening to your daughters body, and most importantly {in my opinion} know the difference between myth and fact.

It amazes me the number of parents that never question information they were given or have heard and then pass that on to their children.

Set your daughter up for success; educate yourself so you can prepare her for all possibilities and situations.


Maybe it’s just me, but unless I pick a specific day for something, it usually doesn’t happen.

Then there’s the uncomfortable nature of this conversation, and well, it would probably never occur if I didn’t pick a date.

U by Kotex Tween has this awesome calendar online that helps you prepare for the talk by not only picking a date, but by also giving you steps to take to prepare:

I love, love, love this thing!  You just choose your day and it gives you tasks to complete on the days leading up to the talk.

It covers facts you should know, questions she might ask, tips on starting the conversation, and more.  It’ll even send you a reminder via email.


I don’t mean for the talk.  We’ve discussed that already.

I mean be prepared for her first period.  I think we get so caught up in the talk that we don’t think about the logistics sometimes.

She’ll need sanitary items.  I love that Kotex has has designed U by Kotex Tween products, just for tweens.

Remember having to keep those giant, thick pads in your purse?  Remember the distinct {ugly} baby pink wrappers?

Our daughters don’t have to deal with products not designed for them and their bodies.  These things are stylish!

Now, before you think I’m crazy, hear me out.  If you have to use the stuff, shouldn’t it be cute?  I think so.


I’m still not entirely comfortable about this conversation.  I don’t think I ever will be.  I do think that I’m much better prepared to have it now, though.

I think it’s important as a parent to have these conversations, the uncomfortable ones, because most of the time, they’re the most important.

I’d rather have this experience and know my daughter is prepared than to not do it because I’m uncomfortable.

My job is to set her up for life, and this is a part of life.

We haven’t just had one talk, we’ve had several small talks.  It’s by no means done, but I think as you let things happen naturally, it is a bit better.

If she doesn’t bring it up, bring it up on your own, in subtle ways.

Have you had this talk with your daughter? Do you have any tips to share?

True Confessions:  I wrote this review while participating in a Brand Ambassador Campaign by Mom Central Consulting on behalf of U by Kotex Tween and received products to facilitate my post and a promotional item to thank me for taking the time to participate.