Archive | April, 2013


25 Apr

by Dawn Gorneault

Let me start by saying that I am by no means a professional photographer. I am just an average mom who likes to take pictures of her children, family and friends. I am usually the one lugging the camera bag around during sporting events, vacations and holidays. I take great pride and joy in capturing moments and sharing them with others. While I am a fan of the traditional “posed” picture for family vacations and holidays, I really do enjoy those memory triggering, emotion capturing shots. I thought I would share a couple of my favorites with you, and hopefully they will inspire your creative side and you can take some pictures of your own to share with us to help inspire myself and others as well.

My first pictures are from when my family and I went to Hershey Gardens in Hershey Pennsylvania. It was my family, my sister’s family and my parents. I will start by saying that the gardens are beautiful, and if you ever get the chance to go, I recommend it as a nice relaxing day for your vacation.

What first caught my epeople pics (12)ye, was when my kids were wandering through the rose gardens. There were dozens of rose buspeople pics (7)Bhes in all different colors. I watched as my children passed by one rose to lean and smell another. I grabbed my camera and focused on their noses in the buds as they inhaled the aroma of the flower and enjoyed not only the beauty of the rose, but the smell as well.people pics (8)

Continuing through the gardens, we encountered many flowers, trees, shrubs and fountains.  Many photo opportunities came about and I took advantage of all of them. But my most favorite shot from the gardens is my “Family Tree” photo. We came upon this grand tree towards the end of the garden. The large branches hung down to the ground. There was a “doorway” into the tree, to get to the trunk. As we were all entering the tree, and climbing on the massive branches underneath, I couldn’t help but think of the photo opportunity available to us with this tree. I could have my family hide in the branches of the tree with only their heads or faces being seen and take a picture from outside the tree. The end product was more than I could ever imagine. This picture hangs in my dining room and when new guest come over to visit, they get to explore the picture to see if they can locate all the members of my family in my “Family Tree

people pics (121)

My next picture is from one of our many vacations to Myrtle Beach. This destination has become a favorite of our family. We have gone therePictureb 152hh for the past 5 years and I can honestly say that we have had a different experience each time we have gone. On the day we took this picture, the husbands and the boys went to play golf, so the girls (and Grampa) went to the pier. We walked along the pier and did some shopping, played in the arcade and had some ice cream. As we walked further down the pier, we decided to go down to the water. It splashed at our feet at every wave. We started to play and run and jump around in the water. I handed my camera to my Dad and told him to take our picture as we all tried to jump at the same time. I will say that it took some time for us to get the perfect shot, but we had a great experience while doing it, and it is all we could talk about later when we meet up with the guys. So much so, that the next year, they boys had to take one just like it.

The last picture is from another family vacationimage102. My parents wanted to take all their grandchildren to the Magical World of Disney. So we packed up our families and headed south for a week in Disney. With three boys and two girls in tow, we headed off bright and early for Magic Kingdom. My son was the only one who hadn’t been before, but like many say, the Disney experience changes as kids get older. So the other kids were just as excited because they could now ride the rides they weren’t tall enough for before or weren’t interested in before. After a long day of character meet and greets, long lines for rides, eating on the go and many, many pictures having been taken, I felt like I missed that picture that would spark that memory and sum up the day in a single shot. The sun was starting to go down. We came around the corner and there it was…the castle, lights on, sunset sky in the background, and the kids looking at it in awe. They were looking and pointing. They knew that that was the symbol of Disney and I grabbed my camera and took the shot. I got it, the shot to sum up the excitement and magic of the day. It hangs proudly in my house and every time I look at it a slideshow of memories of that day passes through my mind and a smile comes across my face.

My kids are now 12, 15 and 18. These days go by quick, and I am so happy that I have been inspired to take pictures that spark these memories. And I hope that I can inspire you to do the same.

You can share photos and ideas with us to keep our inspirations alive as well by commenting on this post.


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Dinner? Who has time for dinner? It’s baseball season!

18 Apr

As the weather turns warm and the trees begin to bud, our thoughts turn to the outside… and baseball – or soccer – or lacrosse – or whatever outdoor activity your kids happen to be involved in this spring.  And as most youth sports are coached by parent volunteers, these practices and games are often scheduled to take place after work hours – right in the middle of dinner time!

dinner time clock

As most busy parents are familiar with, being organized is how they survive, and dinner time at a ball field is no exception.  As someone who runs the concession stand at our Little League field, there are a lot of hot dogs and cheeseburgers for dinner in our family this time of year.  For families that don’t have the option of a freshly cooked dinner, or refuse to feed their kids fast food night after night (remember, kids are what they eat…), I have pulled together some dinner options that are good for the family on-the-go.

dance class pictureskids playing baseball

The Crock Pot

When I think of a crock pot, I think of sitting down with a steaming bowl of stew or chili and a chunk of crusty bread.  Don’t think you need to put away the crock pot just because winter is over.  For the busy family, a little planning and a crock pot can be a big time-saver on the busiest of nights.

Pulled Pork Sandwiches with a side of coleslaw and corn on the cob – I always use the McCormick Slow Cookers BBQ Pulled Pork seasoning mix to give me a head start with seasoning the pulled pork.  In addition to the seasoning mix and the boneless pork shoulder roast, you will need ketchup, brown sugar and cider vinegar.  The best part of this meal is that it freezes really well so don’t be afraid to freeze any leftovers.

BBQ Pulled Pork mix          pulled pork sandwich

Southwestern Chicken with a side of tortillas and avocado – This easy recipe starts with frozen chicken breast!  It seems like when its dinner time in my house, the chicken is always frozen…  Of course this frozen chicken would have to come out in the morning when you are assembling the ingredients in the crock pot.  This dish calls for frozen chicken breasts, canned corn, canned black beans, small jar of salsa, top with cream cheese at the very end.

southwestern chicken

Sweet and Sour Meatballs with a side salad – Another great ‘cheat’ recipe because I start with the frozen meatballs and add grape jelly and chili sauce.  Enough said.

sweet and sour meatballs

Salads and Wraps

Salads and wraps are an easy, light way to have dinner on the run.  A little prep work can go a long way toward making these meals fast.  Prepped ingredients can be assembled in just a few minutes to get dinner ready so you are out the door in no time.  Individual containers allow family members to eat when they have time – your daughter can eat during her brother’s baseball practice and he can eat during her dance class.  These individual meals allows you to customize the ingredients per person – I love Craisins and cheese in my salads, my son only wants cheese and my husband doesn’t like either.

chopping vegetables

Chicken Caesar Salad wraps are a ‘go to’ quick meal for our family.  My shortcut for this meal is to buy a chicken that is already roasted from Sam’s Club.  Their roasted chickens are the same price as a raw one, and I don’t happen to have a rotisserie oven at my house so it’s probably healthier than if I cooked one myself…

chicken caesar salad wrap

Cobb Salad is quickest to make when you have bacon bits made from real bacon or you can pre-cook bacon yourself in advance, crumble it and put it in the freezer until you need it.  I also make a bunch of hard boiled eggs early in the week which are also great for breakfasts on the go.

cobb salad

Chef Salad is traditionally made with ham, turkey and roast beef along with Swiss cheese & hardboiled eggs.  Any combination of meats and cheeses can be substituted – an easy meal to customize.

chef salad

What are some of your favorite quick-fix meal ideas?  Share them with us by commenting on this post.

Anne-Marie Dunn is the owner of Let's Get Blogging!!!

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5 Things to Do With the Kids on April Vacation – Without Breaking the Budget!

11 Apr

April vacation is upon us (well, next week in my town) and here are some ideas that you can do to entertain the kids that won’t break the bank…. flower

Bike ride to a Park

The weather is finally turning nice, and now’s your chance to jump on your bikes, feel the warm air on your face and have a leisurely day (or just a couple of hours if you prefer) with the kids at a local park.  Pack a picnic lunch in a backpack – grab a Frisbee or a tennis ball – and go.  Don’t forget to stop and smell the flowers – and if the flowers aren’t bloomed in your area yet, have the kids notice the different buds that are hopefully forming.  You can talk about the ‘rebirth’ that happens each spring and have the kids notice what blooms earlier in the year and what blooms later.

family bike ride

Treasure Hunt

If you happen to be going on a long car ride, or just a walk around your neighborhood, create a Treasure Hunt for the kids.  You can write up the lists before you leave and challenge the kids to see who can find the most things on their list before you get back home.  Lists can be tailored based on the various ages of the children.  (Non-readers can get a list of pictures they need to find.)  Give each one a pencil or crayon to mark off the items as they find them.  After a successful Treasure Hunt, the reward at the end can be a trip to the ice cream shop!

scavenger hunt

Camp Out at Home

If chilly weather won’t allow you to really ‘camp out’ by sleeping in a tent in the backyard, you can still have your first camp out of the season.  Light up the fire pit in the back yard, sing songs, roast marshmallows and cook up some s’mores, and sing some camp fire songs.  When it’s time for bed, head in to the family room and sleep in sleeping bags on the floor as a family.  To make the effect of really sleeping in a tent, you can make an indoor tent by draping blankets over chairs or the couches.

kids around campfire

Work in the yard

As you do your Spring clean-up in the yard, challenge the kids to dig in and get dirty.  Who can find the biggest worm in the soil?  How many different plants are sprouting out of the earth?  And if you are really ambitious to have the kids help out, getting them their own ‘kid size’ garden tools might inspire them to be great gardeners someday.

kids gardening

Cook up a Storm!

Check out Pinterest to see a huge variety of ‘Fun Food’ ideas that are very kid friendly.  From a fruit kabob rainbow to no-bake desserts you make in a mug, there is something to excite just about everyone.  Here is a link to my ‘Fun Foods’ board on Pinterest:  Use some of these ideas, or search around to find other fun ideas.

rainbow fruit kabobs

Whatever you choose to do while the kids are off from school, doing it together is the best way to build fun memories!!!

Please share your favorite ‘wallet friendly’ ideas for the kids with us by commenting on this post.


Anne-Marie Dunn is the owner of

Please feel free to visit our website or send us an e-mail at to let us know what you think.

April is Earth Month

5 Apr

In case you haven’t heard, April is now dubbed “Earth Month” in celebration of Earth Day which is April 22nd.  Implement these easy earth friendly ideas into your Easter clean up.

  • Save all the plastic eggs collected during Easter egg hunts for next year.  Your kids will love to hang them on the tree next spring.You could even surprise them with a winter egg hunt during a snow storm

easter eggs in snow

  • Dump the plastic Easter basket grass into a bag and store it in an Easter basket for next year’s celebration.  There is no reason to buy Easter grass year after year.

easter basket with grass

  • Donate the excess Easter baskets, stuffed animals and toys to Goodwill (crafters always look there for deals!) or give away via Freecycle or craigslist.  This avoids landfill waste.

donating to Goodwill

  • Check with your local church or synagogue.  Many places collect unwanted wrapped candy for their volunteers to take to the local soup kitchen.

wrapped easter candy

  • Finally, enjoy the Easter plants for years to come!  When appropriate, plant outside.

easter plants

As always, involve your kids!  They are learning lots of earth friendly ideas at school and they will be impressed with your initiatives!

What other ways can you think to reduce/reuse/recycle your Easter items?  Share your thoughts with us!

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