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Kitty Photo Shoot

July 23, 2011

So I was uploading some photos that have been on my camera for a while, when I look over to my left, and my cats are all gazing out the window to a beautiful sunny day.  I couldn’t help myself.  I had to start snapping pictures with my Sigma 30mm lens.  Love that lens!  It takes the best pictures ever!  I don’t use it as often as I should because it has no zoom, so it’s really only good for photos where you can move your body quickly to zoom in and out as needed.  Which, for me, means that I mainly only use it for portraits or close ups of objects or food.  That being said, here are some of the photos I took of our kitties today.  Hope you like them!

Oh, and if you like what you see……I’m available to take pictures for you too!  Well, as long as you’re in the Nashville area that is. 🙂  Or in CA when I happen to be visiting.  Since I’m just starting out, I can offer you beautiful pictures at next to nothing!

Lacey has such beautiful eyes.

I love this one because the green from the grass is reflecting off of her blue eyes, so it looks like her eyes are green toward the top and blue at the bottom.  Such an awesome effect.

Lacey is my little poser.  The other two kitties don’t cooperate with me very well and get annoyed if I have my camera in their faces for too long.

Finally got Lazarus to look at me.  I had my aperture set so low that only his nose is in focus and the rest is out of focus.  For those of you who don’t know many photography terms, aperture has to do with how much of the picture you want in focus.  The higher the aperture, the more in focus the entire picture will be.  As you can see with this photo, I had my aperture set very low so even though his eyes are only a fraction of an inch further back than his nose, they are still slightly out of focus.  If I had focused on his eyes, then his nose would slightly be out of focus.  Hope that makes sense.

BIG yawn!  See how Lazarus’ upper canine tooth is not very sharp?  I’ve always wondered how that happened.

Such a handsome boy.

Fancy wanted to get in on the picture taking action…..or so I like to believe.  She is the least photogenic out of all three cats.  She hates having her picture taken, and never looks at me when I want her to, but I find ways to make her do it anyway. 🙂

All three kitties looking out the window.  Of course Lazarus has to ruin the picture by turning his back to me.

Fancy is beautiful when she finally lets me take her picture!  She has such pretty eyes, and they reflect the green grass so well.

Hello pretty girl.

It’s like she knows she’s having her picture taken.  “Here, Mom.  This is my good side, and I’ll even gaze upwards for you so that my eyes are looking into the light.”

Seriously.  Have you ever seen a more photogenic cat?  Of course, I’m a little biased since I’ve raised her since she was 8 weeks old.  And now she’s already 4 years old!  Where has the time gone?

When my parents were here, my dad was playing with the kitties by shining the light that was reflecting off his watch onto the walls.  The above and following pictures were captured during that time.

What are you looking at?

Oh, you’ve got your camera out?  Okay!  Let me just lay right here and pose for you!

Fancy is staring at the light on the wall across the room.  She pounced right after I took this photo.

Here’s Lacey, copying Fancy’s last pose.  And oh look, my parents made it into the photo!  Ironic since they were actually in the room while I was taking these pictures. 🙂

Ok, I’m open for business!!!  Great photography at a very cheap price, or maybe even free if you’re lucky!  I need to expand my portfolio!  I can only take so many pictures of animals before it starts getting redundant.

 

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My Bridal Shower

July 23, 2011

As many of you know, Steve’s and my wedding was here in Tennessee, which means that almost our entire guest list either had to fly or drive really far to get here.  That being said, I knew I wanted everyone to be able to participate in my bridal shower as well, so I had Elizabeth plan it for the Thursday evening before the wedding so that most people coming from out of town would already be here.  It worked out wonderfully.  Almost everyone (except a few people who were coming in late Thursday night or Friday) was able to attend.

We had a wonderful turnout, and I think between 20-25 ladies showered me with love.

Luckily we had enough chairs for everyone to sit down.  That was one of our main concerns….but we were able to bring in some chairs from our kitchen table and place them against the walls and such to make more seating.

My mom gave a wonderful devotional about being a great wife and loving and respecting your husband.

Love my mom!

Then it was time for presents!!  (Side note:  See that “s M j” on the mantle?  I painted that for the wedding and then forgot to set it out on one of the display tables.  Oh well, it still looks cute in my house)

Yay!  My cupcake carrier!!  Now I have more of an excuse to make delicious cupcakes because I’ll have a method of transportation to bring them to other peoples houses so they don’t end up in my belly!

I got many other wonderful gifts, like this beautiful wedding photo album.  But I won’t bore you with all the present opening pictures.  It might  get kinda redundant.

My friend (and former next door neighbor) Connie came with her bouncing baby girl, Camryn.

What a beautiful baby girl!  And look at those deep blue eyes!!

Well you can forget what I said about the present opening pictures.  I just remembered that my good camera battery died half way through, and my friend and bridesmaid, Tiffany, got my other point and shoot camera and finished taking pictures.  So I guess you’ll just have to deal with more present pictures! 🙂  Connie made this beautiful card for me.  It has cut outs of our wedding invitation and the picture we sent with our invitations.  Very creative!

I just like this picture because I look really tan. 🙂  Those days at the tanning salon really paid off!  No bride wants to blend into her wedding dress, and I most definitely would if I didn’t have a little help from some artificial sun.  Yes, I faked and baked and I’m not ashamed!!!

And this is the face I made when I opened Elizabeth’s gift.  A camera bag!!!  Up until this point, every time I wanted to take my camera somewhere I’ve had to just carry it in my hands or try not to ruin it by carrying it in my purse.  This was a much needed and appreciated gift.

And to top it all off, she had it embroidered with my Southern Daisy logo.  Amazing!

What’s a bridal shower without some kitchen towels and oven mits?!

Steve’s mom, Toli, gave us some cute kitchen towels and oven mits with puppy dogs on them.

This is when I realized that this gift from Cheryl McAdams wasn’t just a pretty picture frame, but that it was pictures of buildings and architecture that actually spelled out my new last name, McVey!!  What an amazing and unique gift!  It is now hanging above our pantry.

Elizabeth was there to help me write down all my gifts so that I wouldn’t forget a single thank you card.

It was a wonderful shower, and I couldn’t have asked for anything more.  Elizabeth did a great job planning it, and my mom was wonderful in helping her out and making some of the food.  Oh man, I just realized that we didn’t get any pictures of Elizabeth’s beautiful cake that she made, but just know that it was a gorgeous strawberry cake with white sides and a beautiful pink flowered top.  And we can’t forget that delicious punch!

 

Lingerie Party (Sorry guys)

July 22, 2011

Well, it’s finally the end of two very busy weeks.  The stress joy of the wedding is over, all of our out of town guests have gone home, and now Steve and I can just look forward to our honeymoon on Tuesday.  We thoroughly enjoyed having all our family and friends come all the way to Tennessee for our wedding, and especially having my parents stay with us for an extra 5 days, but it is kinda nice having our house to ourselves again, and letting everything fall back to it’s normal pace.

So I’m going to start this series of wedding blog posts with my lingerie party.  My wonderful best friend and matron of honor, Elizabeth, planned two amazing showers for me (lingerie and bridal) with wonderful food, friends & family, decorations, and (of course) dessert!

Here is the beautiful table setting I saw as I walked in the door to my lingerie party.

Look at these awesome cookies!!!!  Some are bras with necklaces and others are undies!!! (Again, sorry guys.)

She also had some beautiful mini cupcakes with pink roses on top.

Yummy chocolate covered strawberries….I had a few of these.  Well, actually I had a few of everything.

And these awesome “bra” cupcakes.  I didn’t see it at first, but if you look at 2 cupcakes together they look like a bra!  You’ll see it better in a later photo.

Our friend Jen made this incredible chicken fettuccine bow-tie pasta with sun-dried tomatoes.  I die!  I had 3 helpings of this, I think.

And who can forget the delicious sherbet punch!!!  Mmmmm.  My mouth is watering right now for this stuff!

Alright, Elizabeth, you convinced me.  I’ll have a mimosa too. 🙂

After eating (and drinking) all those delicious treats, we played bridal themed Pictionary. (That looks weird….is that spelled correctly?)

Jenni was the best one at Pictionary  because she is a teacher and is used to writing or drawing on large marker boards.

We had a fun time guessing all the drawings.  And when we ran out of the papers that tell you what to draw, we started making up our own things.

Then it was time for presents!!  (Guys may want to stop reading at this point.)

New lingerie is always super fun!  Actually, new anything is always super fun.  Unless it’s a new mosquito bite, or a new speeding ticket, or a new drool spot on your wall (I get that last one a lot).

And I got some CUTE stuff!

Elizabeth gave me some very risque lingerie…..so be glad that this picture is small enough to where you can’t really see the pictures on the front of those boxes.  Awkward!

Here’s a better view of those “bra” cupcakes.  What a cute idea!  Thank you, Elizabeth, for such a wonderful lingerie party!  Steve I really appreciates it!

 

Mexican Beef Stew

June 27, 2011

I don’t think there is a more easy meal to prepare than one that is cooked in a Crock Pot.  All you have to do is toss the ingredients in the pot, set the timer, and fahgettaboudit.  This Mexican Beef Stew was one such meal!  I love that I can have dinner waiting for us when we get home, instead of having to go through the ordeal of deciding what to make and making sure that I have all the ingredients I need.  Steve and I bought ingredients for a weeks worth of Crock Pot dinners.  Oh, and did I mention that since we had spent over $500 at Kroger last month, we got 60 cents off per gallon when we filled up the gas tank this morning!  We ended up paying only $2.75 per gallon!!!  Oh yes….that’s right!!!

Now, back to the stew.  Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1 1/2 lbs beef for stew, cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1 can (15 oz) pinto beans, mostly drained
  • 1 can (15 oz) whole kernel corn, drained
  • 1 can Campbell’s® Condensed Beef Consomme´
  • 1 cup chunky salsa (I used Pace® Chunky Salsa)
  • 2 tbsp chili powder 
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder or 2 cloves garlic, minced

Start by cutting the beef into 1 inch cubes.  You can also buy stew meat that is already cubed if your grocery store provides that.

Thoroughly coat the meat in flour….no we’re not making chicken fried steak!

Throw the flour-coated meat into a skillet over medium-high heat, and cook until browned.

Chop up your onion.  I only used half an onion, but you can use a whole one if it would make you happier.  I’ve never been a real onion fan.  Unless of course it’s in the form of an onion ring!

Once your meat is browned, throw it into your Crock Pot (or slow cooker if you prefer).

Toss in the onion.

Next comes the beans!  I drained almost all of the liquid out of the can before dumping it in.

Drain the canned corn, and add it to the pot.  It looks like a lot, but once it all gets mixed around it will look more evenly distributed.

I had never cooked with Beef Consomme´ before this recipe, and didn’t really even know what it was.  It looks and smells like a very concentrated beef broth, in case you’re like me and have never cooked with it before.

Pour the beef consomme´ into the pot.

Next, pour a cup of chunky salsa into the pot.  I used Pace® Chunky Salsa, but you can use whatever brand you want.  I don’t know if fresh salsa would work well in this recipe, but if you want to try it out with fresh salsa, let me know how it turns out!

Finally, add the chili powder, ground cumin, and garlic powder (or minced garlic if you decided to use that).

Give it all a good stir, and set your temperature to low, and cook for 8-10 hours.  If you don’t have 8-10 hours to wait, you can also cook it on high for 4-5 hours.

Here’s what the stew will look like after 8 hours of cooking.  Yum! Yum!  I love that the house smells so good when we walk through the door after a long day at work.  So nice to come home and have dinner ready!

Pour several big ladle fulls of stew into your favorite bowl and enjoy!  I know this isn’t exactly a “summer” dinner, but crank that A/C up and you’ll be in the mood for hot stew in no time! 🙂

 

Please Pray For Cassidy

June 19, 2011
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Recently I learned some devastating news about one of our family friends.  Cassidy Clark is a 7 year old girl who was diagnosed with leukemia at the age of 3.  She was diagnosed only three weeks after her mother, Myndi, died after a long battle with cancer.  Cassidy has had three bone marrow transplants, and each time her cancer has returned.  This time, it has returned with a vengeance.  The doctors have only given her 3 months to live, but said that it could just be a matter of weeks.  There is no treatment they can give her since the leukemia is so aggressive this time.  Please lift her and her family up in prayer.  She has two older sisters, McKenzie and Savannah, and they are taking it quite hard.  All three sisters are very close.  Her father, Chad, and step-mom Jenn have been through so much over the past few years, and they need God’s loving arms to wrap around them in peace and comfort.  Here is the letter they wrote to their friends on facebook:

Dear Praying Friends,

I want to praise God for His goodness to our family.  It is so easy to see all of the ways He shows His love to us.  We serve a wonderful SAVIOR.  We understand that every thing that God allows to happen in our lives is molding us into the people He wants us to be and that NOTHING happens that separates God’s Glory from our good. 

It is with those thoughts in mind, I want to inform everyone of the test results we received on Friday.  Cassidy’s nurse practitioner, Kim, who we’ve become very close with during our time at St. Jude, called yesterday to tell us that the leukemia is indeed back.  Cassidy has completely lost the graft from her third transplant and her original bone marrow has taken over.  The team at St Jude met to discuss treatment options and have none to offer. There is nothing that they have not tried and each relapse has resulted in a stronger, more resistant leukemia. We felt we had to ask how much time they were thinking we had left and were shocked at how little time they predict.  Kim said it might be three months, but we’re probably talking weeks.  Once a leukemia patient converts back to the original marrow, a “snow ball” effect takes place.  Cassidy has already passed that point.

As we continue to pray for HEALING, we do understand that, sometimes, that is not GOD’S PLAN.  Chad and I have cried our hearts out to God to heal Cassidy, but if HE CHOOSES not to, we have PEACE that He knows what is best for Cassidy and for each of us.  Words cannot convey the peace He has already given.  I feel as though He has wrapped me in His arms and is constantly whispering in my ear that He is with us.  We are resting in Him.

Recently, we’ve had a few conversations with Cassidy regarding HEAVEN.  Last night, Chad asked her if the leukemia was back and there was no cure, would she want to take chemotherapy again to make her live a little longer and she said, “Daddy, Pleeeaase let me go to Heaven and don’t make me take the pill.”  She is not afraid of death in any way and is even excited to see her Savior face to face.  She talks about getting a “nunicorn” in heaven and wants to name him, “NUNA.”  She talks about eating as much fruit as she wants from the Tree of Life talked about in the Bible.  She talks about seeing her first mommy and hopes that at least one of the babies that Myndi miscarried is a boy because she’s always wanted a brother.

Please do not stop praying for us.  We plan to tell the girls shortly after I finish this update.  We pray for God’s peace to surround our home as we say these difficult words. 

Ever thankful for your continued prayers,

The Clarks

Cassidy and her sisters were going to be my flower girl and junior bridesmaids, but due to this horrible turn of events, they will not be able to make it.  My lack of a flower girl will be explained in my wedding program, and we will take a moment during the ceremony to honor this wonderful little girl who has more strength in her little body than I can even imagine.

 

Franklin Wedding: The Reception

June 18, 2011

So I’ve done posts on getting ready, pre-ceremony photos, the ceremony, and now I’m going to conclude this 4 post series with the RECEPTION PHOTOS!!!!!

Here’s Rustin, waiting for the marriage license to be signed.  You can see the minister signing it in the background.

For some reason, I didn’t have to sign the marriage license as a witness.  Only Eli, the best man signed it.  That was a little disappointing. 😦

Elizabeth, Steve, and I are looking at the guest book.  They had cute pictures in there from throughout their relationship.  They even had a screen shot of Rustin’s text message, asking Elizabeth to marry him.  That’s right…….a text message!

Yay!  They’re officially married!!!

Ok, is this not the funniest cake topper you’ve ever seen??  Hilarious!

Beautiful bridesmaids…..if I do say so myself.  🙂

Krista and Steve (one of the many).  Such a cute couple!

Here are some attempts at our jumping picture.

Traditional wedding photo.

The groomsmen with the bride.  Look at my little cutie there in the front!

Bridesmaids with the groom.

Steve and me with our best friends, Elizabeth and Rustin!  Just you wait, in a few years we’re going to have another picture together with the addition of a bunch of little kids.  🙂

Capturing a private moment.

Love this photo!

My pretty gerbera daisy bouquet.  My favorite flowers!  Oh, and my pink sandals that Elizabeth gave to all the bridesmaids to wear at the reception.

Time for the first dance as husband and wife.

Time to cut the cake!

That cake topper was really stuck on there!

Well, in case you can’t tell….and because my “camera man” didn’t get a picture quick enough….instead of feeding each other the cake, Rustin and Elizabeth so graciously decided to smash the cake in mine and the best man’s faces.  Sooooooooo thoughtful!!!  And look, they think they’re SO funny!  Well just you wait little missy.  You’re in my wedding in less than a month!

But I was a good sport about it.  Even though Rustin completely chucked the cake at me like he was throwing a fast ball!

We’re still friends! 🙂

Thanks for the help, guys!

I had some trouble getting it out of my eyelashes, so Jen helped me.

All better!

Bouquet time!!  I only had a month and a half left where I can participate in this!

She had to do it twice because both times, she threw it WAY to far!  Sarah (in the purple) ended up catching it.

Garter time!  Oh Elizabeth, so naughty!

Rob, Sarah’s boyfriend ended up catching the garter.  How perfect!

Here’s a close up of my hairdo.  🙂

And, all of a sudden it’s dark!  There was about a 2 hour span where I didn’t have my camera with me for some reason.  Oh I know, it was because I was dancing!!  And the ring bearer wouldn’t let me stop dancing, or dance with anyone but him.  I was his prisoner!!

Somehow, all the guys ended up in the pool at the end of the night…..in their tuxes!!!

Even the ring bearer jumped in!

Here is my Steve’s graceful entrance into the pool!

Yah!  We’re so cool!!

Oh honey, you’re still a little kid at heart!  The girls ended up jumping in a little later….but not in our dresses, of course.  Wendie (Rustin’s mom) provided us with some bathing suits. 🙂  It was a very fun night!  A night that I hope we will never forget!

 

Franklin Wedding: The Ceremony

June 10, 2011

It’s wedding ceremony time!  I gave my camera to our friend Steve (all 3 bridesmaids have hubbies named Steve) and told him to take as many pictures as he wanted.  Well, he sure didn’t disappoint!!!  I had over 600 pictures from that day.  I’m still not finished editing them all, but here are a few from Elizabeth and Rustin’s wedding ceremony.

Here’s Rustin dancing down the aisle.  I think it caught everyone by surprise.

If you look closely, you can see Steve and me peeking over the fence in the background.

Then everyone danced down the aisle, one by one.

Here’s one of the other Steve’s.

Jr. Bridesmaid, Rachel.

It’s my honey bunny’s turn!

He really got into it.

Here’s Jen!

I don’t remember this groomsman’s name, but he threw candy into the audience!

It’s my turn!

Don’t ask what I’m doing…..a pirouette maybe?

I’m such an embarrassment!  Don’t ever ask me to dance down an aisle again!

Best man, Eli.

Ryan ran down the aisle and did a quick spin at the end.  🙂  Such a good sport.

Sam skipped down the aisle, with her poofy dress bouncing along with her.  So cute.

Here comes the bride!!!  She didn’t dance.  It’s kinda hard to dance to a wedding march.

Such a beautiful bride!

Rustin looks like he went into military mode.  He was so serious at the first part of the ceremony.  He finally let loose a little during the vows.

“Who gives this woman to be married to this man?”

I love this look they gave each other.  It was the first time Rustin smiled since he saw her walk down the aisle.

And…..back to being serious.

Look at her pretty tea length dress.  Perfect for an outdoor spring wedding!  And of course it lets her show off those hot pink pumps!

Reading the vows.  Rustin made his into a rap song….or was it just supposed to be a poem?  I couldn’t tell.

One of Elizabeth’s vows was to watch one sports game with him per week without falling asleep. 🙂

She also vowed to cook dinner for him once a week….and Elizabeth HATES to cook.  So that was a big one!

I love a wedding where the bride cries. 🙂

And also when she laughs!

Rustin’s parents’ backyard made a beautiful wedding venue.

I’m handing her Rustin’s ring.  I also got to hold her bouquet…which made me happy. 🙂

The exchanging of rings.

I now pronounce you husband and wife!!!

Kiss the bride!!!!

He picked her up in a big whoosh of white dress, and carried her down the aisle.

And then we all followed.  By the by….look how awkward I look next to the best man.  I’m what…..6 inches taller than him, at least?!

Then we all stood around outside the gate for several minutes before someone told us what we were supposed to be doing. 🙂

All in all, it was a lovely, and sometimes corny ceremony.  I don’t think I could have imagined it any other way.