Tuesday, July 19, 2011


This is Tess.  I thought I would take a minute to tell you that….

tess splash pad2

we are having a great vacation.  My mom might get back to blogging soon.

Well see.

Saturday, July 9, 2011


My good friend Dayna is having her first BABY GIRL, and that is reason to celebrate.

Celebrate copy

So I threw her a little shower.  It turned out so beautiful, and I had such a wonderful time planning it.  I couldn’t wait to share the details with you.

The food at a baby shower is the most important part.  I always love going to baby shower’s because the food always tastes so yummy.

Jars copy

Presentation always make the food look even better.  I decided to make the baby shower cake a little differently.

I heard threw the grapevine that Dayna was enjoying Rolo Mcflurries from McDonalds.  I decided to make Rolo Cupcakes.  I found the recipe here.  I altered it just a little bit.  I didn’t add the Ganache.  I added a dollop of hot fudge instead.  I also doubled the cake recipe so that I could bake them in these:

Jars 3 copy

Look how fun it is to have cake in a jar.  It was very simple.  I sprayed the jars with Pam spray, and then added 2 scoops of cupcake batter.  I baked them for 30 minutes at 350.

Cake in a jar 3 copy

I also baked one pan of mini muffins as well.  Once they cooled in the jar, I added a bit of the salted carmel frosting found with the Rolo cupcake recipe.  I did not have to double that recipe.  Then I added the mini muffin, and topped it with more frosting.

Cupcakes in a jar copy 

Another rolo(there is one inside the cupcake too), and hot fudge to top it off.

Rolo Cupcakes copy

Then my little Stella helped me screw the lids on.  I added a ribbon, a pink spoon, and a tag that says enjoy.

Cake in a jar copy

They were the perfect addition to the shower.  Some were eaten at the shower right out of the jar, and others were taken home to be eaten later.  I love how it turned out to be a little party favor.

Jar copy

Along with the cupcakes, I dipped some Oreos in white chocolate and added pink sprinkles.  It gives the table a nice bit of color and texture.  Plus, they were delicious.

Dipped Oreos copy 

I also made some ham and cheese croissants.  They were the perfect party food.

Ham and Cheese Roll copy 

They are so easy:

2 cans of croissants, deli ham, cheese, and butter.  Brush the croissants with butter, and roll up with ham & cheese inside. Bake following the package directions.  EASY, and delicious. 

I also did the same thing with a can of pizza dough.  I rolled it out; added the butter, ham and cheese.  I rolled it up like a jelly roll.  Then I cooked it, and sliced it into small rolls.

My friend Christy brought the fruit and dip.  Which is so great in the summer. 

Fruit copy 

When I throw a shower, I always ask friends to bring food as well.  I can never do it all.  I wish I had gotten a picture of my friend Michelle’s cookie dough truffles.  YUM!! I might have to ask her to guest post about that one day. She made them for my shower when I was pregnant with Tess.

I also enjoy using some of the dishes that I have been collecting.  Pretty dishes make such a statement. It is so much fun because I am storing them on my kitchen counters as decoration, and then I pull them off and use them.  I am starting to collect lots of cake plates, milk glass, and pretty bowls.  I have found most of them at flea markets and the good will.

Fork holder copy

One day I want to have collected enough dishes that I don’t have to buy paper goods.  I just want to use an eclectic collection of unique dishes.

For the decorations:

I made some pinwheels out of scrapbook paper.

Jars copy

I ruffled some streamers using my sewing machine; To hang, and to use as the table runner.

Poms and banners copy

I hung some pom-poms that I had made for a previous occasion, and a book chain that I made for Tessa’s birthday.

Pom Poms copy

The book chain went well with the frames that I hung behind the table.

frames copy

Aren’t they so cute.

I took some frames that I had in my attic, and painted them white.  Then I printed the words ROCK A BYE on white cardstock.  I used the font: porcelin.

Rock a bye copy

I ripped some more pages from a book, and added the words.  I used a brown inkpad to distress the edges of the paper.  Then I attached that to white cardstock and put it in the frames. A ribbon stapled to the back allowed me to hang them.

I love how it matches the book chain, and my book wreath.

Table 3 copy

It is also a great gift for the new mother to take home.

I also couldn’t help myself, and made one more print.  I attached it to a canvas that I had lying around.  I added some pink ribbon to the edges to complete the look.

Alphabet copy 

It says: J is for Jordyn.  Isn’t that the cutest name for a baby girl?  Dayna also took this home for Jordyn’s nursery.  Which is adorable by the way.

I love how it all came together.  I love planning parties, and having it all turn out so nicely.

Table 1 copy

The best part of a party is the feeling that you get when you have everyone in your home enjoying themselves.  It is worth the time and effort to enjoy being together, and celebrating the upcoming arrival of a sweet baby girl.

Congratulations Clayton and Dayna.

I am linking up to Just a Girl Show and Share.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Fourth of July {Part 2}

Our regular Fourth of July party was on July 2nd this year, so we had to come up with something great to do on the Fourth.

The Fourth of July is one of those holidays that I need to stay busy or I start to get a little homesick for family BBQ’s.  We came up with our own little family plan, and it turned out to be a great holiday.

The kids spent the morning in their new fort that Jonathan built in the woods by our house.  (I will post about this later)

They also enjoyed riding bikes and playing outside, while I did a little light housework.  I know it sounds exciting all ready.

Jonathan worked on his famous ribs for dinner.  My mouth was watering all day.


I decided that I would put some effort in to making our dinner special.  I knew a few decorations would take our Fourth of July dinner from ok to exciting.  The kids love when I pull out the fancy glasses, and they were thrilled to see balloons.

I also made some cookies that were pink red, white, and blue.  (darn red food coloring)

Dinner was delicious.  We enjoyed ribs, salad, watermelon and cookies.


The kids even blew out a candle while we sang “Happy Birthday to America.”


After dinner, the kids enjoyed playing with the balloons while we cleaned up.


Then we watched a movie together.  I love family movie nights.  We decided to watch The Voyage of the Dawn Treader/Narnia 3.  The kids must have loved it because they have been on a Narnia kick ever since and have watched 1, 2 and 3.

After the movie, we put Tess to bed because of her fear of fireworks.  See this face? 

Daddy and Tess Vintage

This was earlier in the day.  We went outside and the neighbors were lighting a few, and she freaked out.  They scared her to death. We  decided it would be more fun for us and her if she was in bed.

Tess and Dad 3

Then Jonathan put on the first annual Swenson fireworks show.  It was awesome.  He even taught Jex how to light a few.  The kids enjoyed it so much that I think it will have to be tradition.  Almost our whole street was lighting fireworks.  It was so much fun to be out there and watching all the different lights and colors.  I loved hearing all the sounds.  It felt like home.


It was such a great day spent as a family.  Even though I miss being at home with our extended family, I wouldn’t trade the memories that we are creating with our own. We really do have so much to be thankful for.  One thing I learned on this holiday is that regardless of how much I miss my family and being “home”; I am thankful that America is the place I call HOME!!

Yes, I did scrapbook this event.  Want to see?

Go here.

Fourth of July {Part 2} Scrapbook pages

Here are the pages from our family Fourth of July celebration.

To read about it go here.

To read {Part 1} go here.

Liberty 1 copy

Liberty 2 copy

Fourth of July 1 copy

Fourth of July 2 copy

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Fourth of July {Part One}

We moved to Arkansas on June 3, 2008.  There are many things I miss about not being close to our family.  In the eight years that we have been away, the hardest holiday for me has always been the Fourth of July.  So naturally, one of the first questions I asked a friend was, “what kind of fun things happen around here for the Fourth of July?”  She got the most excited and delighted look on her face as she began to tell me about the Henderson celebration.  The Henderson’s are a family that live in our ward.  They have a nice piece of land with a beautiful pavilion, and facilities for great parties.  Every year they invite our ward to come out and celebrate our Nation’s birthday.  It really has been one of the most memorable parts of our time here in Arkansas.

This year was our last year to attend.  It is so sad because our kids enjoy it so much, and we enjoy spending time with our friends.  I wanted to make sure that I really documented this special memory of our time in Arkansas.  This year they had the party on Saturday, July 2nd.

Fourth of July

I apologize now for picture overload.

Web re-sized4

The property is so beautiful.  They have flowers, benches, arbors, trees, and water that add to the beauty of the party.

Tessa Mae

I couldn’t help but take some pictures of Tessa Mae.

The food at the party is to die for.  They provide all the food.  You will find: ribs, hamburgers, hotdogs, French fries, sides, watermelon and catfish.

Great Food

Lets not forget the yummy homemade ice-cream; vanilla, strawberry, and banana. The Strawberry is my favorite. I have heard that they make close to 25 batches of homemade ice-cream.  Can you imagine all the work that goes in to this party.

Cotton Candy

They also have a stand specifically for drinks, snocones, and cotton candy.  YUM!!  All of us enjoyed the cotton candy.  Here in the south you have to eat it fast before it melts.

Horseshoes  Leslie and Tess

There is also plenty to do.  Among visiting with our friends, they have activities for the adults.  Jonathan was undefeated in horse shoes.  There is also plenty for the kids to do.  They enjoy being with their friends, and playing on the massive playground.  All of which was hand built by the Henderson's.  Tessa loves to swing.  Thankfully, she talked my friend Leslie in to swinging with her.


After the sun goes down, they put on a marvelous firework show.  We all just sit back and ENJOY!! Except for Tess.  She was so nervous, she snuggled in to Leslie and went to sleep.

Thank you Henderson family for making our Fourth of July’s here in Arkansas so wonderful.

P.S.  keep reading to see the scrapbook pages(or click here) I made to document our Fourth of July at the Henderson’s.

Fourth of July at the Henderson’s in Scrapbook pages

I am attempting to scrapbook as it happens.  I am tired of being behind, so I am taking control and scrapbooking in the now.  I will catch up later.  I will share what I scrapbook, as I do it.  I plan to make the pages before I post about it, but that doesn’t always happen.  Feel free, to save them for ideas for your own scrapbook pages.  I hope this encourages you to record your memories some how.  It is so important to be a record keeping people.  Our history is what connects our past with the future.

For more information about how I scrapbook go here.

(I just switched to Photoshop CS5.  I found that I still use elements for scrapbooking.  It is still easier for me.  I use CS5 for photography.)

Most of the scrapbook products you see here came from:

Shabby Miss Jen

and Carina Gardner at Jessica Sprague

To read about our Fourth of July at the Henderson’s visit here.

Tessa at the Hendersons 1 copy

Tessa at the Hendersons 2 Copy copy

Fourth of July at the Hendersons 1 copy

Fourth of July at the Hendersons 2 copy

Cotton Candy copy

Cotton Candy 2 copy

Sunday, July 3, 2011

The Simple Things

Isaac Hotdog 3

There is nothing like an All-American Hot dog during the Fourth of July Weekend.

Happy Birthday America!!

Linking to:


Friday, July 1, 2011

Family Picture Time

Every year we, as in the six of us, get all dressed up and pose for the camera.    While we were in Houston, we were lucky to have one of Houston’s finest capture our family.  Luckily, she likes me and could squeeze us in.

Family 5

Taking family pictures is always a big project.


I spend weeks planning and preparing our wardrobe.  Because I also take pictures for a business, I know how important it is to get the colors and style just right.

Family 3

I also have a very small budget.  I am here to tell you that you can still look great on very little money.

How do I decide?


First, I start with inspiration.  My living room colors were my inspiration.  I wanted our family picture to look like it was made for our family room.

Plus, those colors will look great on our Christmas card.  Yes, we have already taken our Christmas Card picture.  I love it, and I can’t wait to share it with you. You only have to wait six more months.  I can cross that one of the list.  It is so nice to have something done for Christmas in June.

After I pick the colors, I like to think about the style that I am going for.  I wanted sophisticated woman, meets rock and roll.

I heart you 2 sharp

Once I decide on the colors and style I keep my eyes open.

Details of red

I ran across these gold skirts for the girls at old Navy in their clearance section; and beautiful gold shoes for Tessa’s feet.  I knew some red and black would seal the deal. 

Stella already had a black shirt.  I bought some red trim flowers from the Lob, and sewed it on.  I also made her a headband.  Tess already had this great black sweater, so I thought a flower pin would add just the right amount of red. I also made that out of the trim and a little hot glue. A strand of mother’s pearls also makes the outfit.  I made her a couple hair clips, and wa-la; the girls look hip and sophisticated.  In photography, the littlest details really do make all the difference.

Homemade Ties

I knew I wanted the boys to wear ties, but I had a hard time finding what I was looking for.  It was time to break out the sewing machine and make my own.  I found the tutorial here.  If you don’t sew, you could always search etsy for someone who does.  We already had white shirts and jeans.  I chose to have them wear their sneakers instead of dress shoes.  I like the look it gives.  Just the style I was going for.

Husband and Wife  Love

Luckily, my husband had just bought this black shirt.  I can’t resist a man in designer jeans and boots so that completed his rock and roll look.

Family picture 1

I am always the one that needs help.  I have a hard time picking out something for myself.  I knew I wanted a dress, and when I found this one for $8.00 on clearance at Target; I snatched it up.  I made it my own by adding a red tie.  I knew red heels and a red necklace would finish it off; so I hit the Goodwill.  Guess what, I found them both for $5.oo total.  My total outfit came to $13.00.  I painted my fingernails red to complete the ensemble.  I do believe that the details really make it.

tickle edit

Krysta did such a good job at capturing our family.  This picture says it all for me.

This is our life


Once we got home, I couldn’t wait to print them.  This is another way that you can help make your pictures look there best.  Pick a quality printer.  Walmart is not going to do your pictures justice.  I love mpix.com.

I couldn’t wait to see what they would look like in our house.

picture frames

I love how the colors match.

Big Frame 2

What do you think?

I hope this helps you when thinking about your own family pictures.  The colors, style, printing, and of course the photographer you pick really do effect the outcome of your pictures.  You can have a part in making your images look even better.

For more photography inspiration visit me here, or Krysta here.


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