Thursday, July 28, 2011

Mamarazzi Every Mom's Guide to Photographing Kids | Review & Giveaway

Last year the hubs spoiled me with a Nikon DSLR for my birthday; over the past year I've promised myself time and time again that I would learn how to really use my camera, to stop using the auto mode on this incredible piece of machinery.  You may recall that although I have no formal photography training, I did spend many hours working in a photo lab.  I've also read photography tutorial after tutorial online and considered taking a photography course, however thus far had only managed to move from auto to priority settings, slowly trying to understand each mode independently.

This year for my birthday, which was last week, I finally started shooting in manual mode and bought myself a shiny new Nikon 50mm f/1.8 lens (dubbed the 'nifty fifty' by Stacy Wasmuth) while outlet shopping on the Oregon Coast.  Both of these fabulous facts can be attributed, at least partially, to a new book I received for review; Mamarazzi: Every Mom's Guide to Photographing Kids by Stacy Wasmuth.

So what exactly is the Mamarazzi?  I'm a member and I bet you are too.

Mamarazzi [mah-muh-raht-tsee] (noun, plural): Mothers who doggedly pursue opportunities to take, share and display photographs of their children.
I admit that when I first received Mamarazzi I immediately started flipping through the pages, reading snippets of information that seemed interesting or relevant to me.  I started with the technical information in 'Chapter 6: Camera Crew' and was amazed at the comfortable yet informative tone of the chapter and was even more surprised to find that after reading the chapter I found myself eager to try out what I had learned.  The best part, when I actually went out and starting shooting in manual mode, I was happy with the results.  Happy enough in fact, to invest in a much wanted new lens.  Here's a sampling of said photos, including some of my sister (whose not a child, but was happy to let me practice photographing her) what do you think?

beachtime baby boy
water fountainsnacktime
a moment in Seaside
After gaining a better technical understanding in Chapter 6 of Mamarazzi, I started reading the book cover to cover.  The book is full of useful tips and techniques, including suggestions to replace cheesy pictures with genuine ones, regardless whether you are shooting infants, toddlers or preteens.  The book is infused with beautiful imagery, each complete with the settings used for the shot, which I found infinitely useful in my quest to understand manual shooting.

When I read Mamarazzi I feel like I'm having a private photography lesson from a friend who also happens to be a photographer.  I'm confident that whether you have little to no photography knowledge or if you've read books and taken lessons, Mamarazzi will be able to teach you something new about photographing kids.  The icing on the cake?  You don't need a DSLR to benefit from this book, Stacy Wasmuth has written this book so that point-and-shoot cameras can learn something too.

So, are you dying to get your hands on your own copy of Mamarazzi?  We are giving away three copies here on the Momma Stuff Blog, so make sure you comment to enter and spread the news on Facebook, Twitter and Google+ for additional entries.  Don't forget to check out Stacy Wasmuth's work on her website

Contest now closed, congrats to our winners
#52 - Donna
#31 - Sara
#8  - Katie

Friday, July 22, 2011

recycling in the garbage breaks my heart

Rockaway Beach House

There's only a few days left in our Oregon coast vacation; we've spent most of our time relaxing, walking around town and of course enjoying the beach.  Fortunately the beach here in Rockaway is fairly deserted, which means the boy can have his run of the beach and we don't have to worry that he's disturbing anyone else or stealing other kids toys.
Rockaway Beach

The boy loves the sand, the rocks and the seaweed but is not so keen on the Ocean itself, in fact after six days here, all he will do is stomp his toe in the edge of the water and then bolt up the beach.  That being said, I have to admit it is absolutley adorable when he hunkers down to run from the waves. 

I love the sleepy, beach town feel of Rockaway and I have but one complaint; there is no recycling.  Although as a state Oregon recycles, there is no facility, collection or means to recycle here.  Our welcome package at the house was very clear, EVERYTHING goes into the garbage.  Every time a recyclable goes into the garbage my entire family's heart sinks just a little bit and add in the disposable diapers we're using because we are on vacation and our garbage has more than tripled this week.

Despite my passion, I rarely talk about living green on the Momma Stuff Blog.  It almost seems redundant to write about day to day green living activities like recycling, composting, reusable cups and shopping bags, because to me its not an option, its a way of life.  Where I live we have curbside pick up for all recyclables, papers, plastics, metals and cardboard and they are even rolling out a food scraps program so that all food wastes, paper towels, paper plates and the like can be sent out for composting.

I do not consider our town overly progressive from an environmental perspective, however we are getting there.  At a recent City-sponsored event I was ecstatic to find not only were the recycling and composting bins considerably more prominent than the garbage, but there was also a portable tap water station to fill up water bottles.  We have some of the best tap water on the west coast and I am proud to say I drink it every day.
tap water

This trip to Oregon has reminded me that living green may be my mantra, but I shouldn't assume that everyone else is afforded the same luxury of having the facilities and the means to look out for the environment every step of the way.  I hope this trip will serve as a reminder to share more of my environmental knowledge and experiences, so that we can all work towards a greener future.

Does your family 'live green'? 
What actions do you take to minimize your impact on the Earth?

Friday, July 15, 2011

Moments for Momma

Anyone whose a parent can tell you that in the hustle and bustle of daily life no longer do we get hours and days of personal time, instead we must learn to embrace the little moments of peace that our lifestyle allows.  Be it a hot shower with the door closed (one of my personal favourites) a second to read the newspaper, an opportunity to bake cookies or even a little bit of time to blog; as a parent, particularly of young children we must take advantage of any moment that can truly be classified as 'me time'.

You may have noticed that over the last couple weeks, my blog posting has waned a little bit.  Although I have had a plethora of ideas and thoughts running through my head, many of which I can't wait to share, the honest truth is that my 'moments for momma' have been fleeting and I have been rediscovering an old passion.

As a child, my Mom and her friend used to make and sell crafts, which meant that there was an entire bedroom in my house filled with fabric, ribbons, beads, buttons, rick, rack, mod podge, glues and paint and most of it was available at my disposal.  Granted I used the scraps and extras, but I spent hours in that room and I learned to use both a sewing machine and a serger at a very young age.

When the boy was about 6 months old, I started making drool bandanas and even managed to sell a few, then when I was pregnant with baby boy, I whipped out my sewing machine again.  Girls clothes are so much cuter, so I ended up making a bunch of dresses, but now that its clear I'm a momma to boys, I've given most of them away and am hoping to sell the few that remain.
Dress and matching purse

But I digress, in the last few weeks rather than blogging, I have once again pulled out my sewing machine.  Using internet tutorials, I made a super cute Summer Frock and adorable purse for a birthday party we recently attended, I even made a matching headband to complete the outfit.
hoody for the boy

What I'm even more proud of however, is this adorable jersey hoody that I made for the boy using old t-shirts and a little bit of camouflage jersey fabric I had on.  I made this hoody using the Heidi & Finn Unisex Hoody pattern.  Seriously easy and so cute!  There's something about the physical creation of a garment from mere fabric that gives me great satisfaction and these days I'm inclined to think that a little bit of pride that's unrelated to my children is a good thing.

What do you do to unwind in your 'moments for mommy?'

Saturday, July 9, 2011

BARE Air-Free Bottles

I've recently noticed that if I am at the checkout, be it the grocery store or Toys R Us, and I am asked to donate to a cause I am far more likely to donate a dollar or two than I am under any other circumstance.  If the cause is for children, women or mothers in need, I'm even more likely to contribute.  For some reason it seems so much easier to add a couple dollars onto an existing expense; it's likely the two dollars I donated was saved by an item I bought on sale anyways right?  Interesting the justifications our minds think up.

I started thinking about this after learning about the BARE Air-Free Bottle; this mom-designed bottle is made to truly prevent the ingestion of air, mimic the mother's breast, prevent bacteria and simplify cleaning.  In order for BARE to become a reality, Mom inventor Priska Diaz is seeking sponsorship from everyday people, mom's like us, via a unique site called Kick Starter.  Pledges as low as $1 are being accepted and everyone who contributes will receive recognition on the BARE website.  Although you can't pledge BARE at your grocery check-out, it is super easy to use your credit card via amazon payments.

So what makes BARE so unique?

Although many bottles claim to be inspired by mother's breast, BARE takes it a step farther, allowing the milk flow to be determined entirely by babies suckling, this also means there's no need for different nipples as baby grows.  A BARE bottle will provide more milk to baby when he is ready and when baby sucks, the nipple stretches just like mom's.  I'm also amazed by the innovation of the air-plug; it works just like a syringe allowing you to effectively push all the air out of the bottle before baby's lips ever reach the nipple.  BARE air-free bottles are dishwasher safe, designed to minimize backwash and promote self-feeding as your child grows.

We are already on our third variety of bottle with the baby boy, as he is prone to very bad and uncomfortable gas, with all these great features I only wish that BARE  was available in stores now, I'd definitely try them out.  Find out more about BARE air-free bottles and  consider contributing a loonie or two to a mompreneur with a product that has the potential to effect many. 

This post is sponsored by BARE air-free bottles, however all opinions are my own.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Glasses CAN be an accessory

When I was a little girl, I secretly wanted to wear glasses; I was sure they would make me seem more mature and sophisticated.  I was eleven when glasses became my reality, I still remember my first pair of frames, they were black with purple splatter and one of the lenses perpetually fell out.

It was when I was crawling on the floor searching for the tiny screw of those glasses that I realized that although my idealistic self thought that eyeglasses were the ultimate accessory, in actuality they were more of a necessity.  As I've aged, my prescription has continued to increase, in fact just today I was telling the boy 'no touching Mommy's glasses, she needs them to see!'

One of the worst things about my declining eyesight is that the stronger my prescription gets, the more expensive my glasses become to purchase.  As such, my childhood dreams of eye glasses as an accessory seemed fleeting; I have never been able to afford more than one pair of glasses at a time, which means that my glasses simply couldn't be classified as an accessory.

I should have known that the internet would come to the rescue, sites such as make it possible for anyone to purchase fashionable glasses at a great price, which means that having multiple sets of glasses isn't just for the rich and famous anymore.  No longer must we wear the same pair of glasses to a cocktail party as we wear every day at the office.

Next time I need to buy glasses I'll be looking online and you should too. offers features such as a virtual mirror to ensure you get just the right fit, a 110% lowest price guarantee, a 100% satisfaction guarantee, a generous referral program and worldwide shipping.  Glasses USA is offering all Momma Stuff Blog readers a 10% discount off their next pair of glasses, just enter code 'Mommy10' at checkout OR if you want to try out transition lenses enter code 'Tran25' and get $25 off your order.

This post is sponsored by, however all opinion are my own.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

I want a house...but maybe not today

I want a house.
With a yard for the kids to play in.
With a garden for flowers, food and herbs.
With a front room for the adults.
With a rec room for the kids.
With enough space for family barbeques.
With ample storage.
With a bright and roomy kitchen.
I want a house.

But all of these things come at a cost; our current townhome is five minutes from my mother-in-law and fifteen minutes from my parents, despite living in an urban centre, we have a beautiful park literally across the road.  We are a ten minute walk from the skytrain that connects us to downtown Vancouver and we can easily walk to the mall or grocery store.  This pedestrian accessibility of our neighbourhood speaks to the concept of 'smart growth', but despite my love for the environment that's not on the list for why we stay.
the yard - June 2011
One of the reasons we bought our townhouse is the yard; we have a small, private, west-facing yard and over the past few years we have really made it our own.  The hubs and my Dad built a beautiful deck made of 'plastic wood' that won't rot and will stand up to our wet west coast weather and the hubs also built me a raised flower bed for our raspberry bushes, which are nostalgic for me, and strawberry plants, yummy!  This year we are also trying an upside down tomato planter, even though we aren't really tomato fans.
Strawberries - June 2011
The garden takes energy to maintain but also provides it; sitting in the garden is both refreshing and rejuvenating.  If and when we move, it will likely be the thing I miss most.  Although I want a house with a bigger yard and more space I'm not so sure I'd want to leave our townhouse in the middle of its most beautiful season of the year. 
tomatoes - June 2011
How much space does your family have?  Do you wish you had more or even less?