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For the Love of Fall

New England in the Fall via Photoz Hub | http://www.roseclearfield.com

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You all know that I love summer. But as we move into the official fall season this week, I’m trying to stay on board and embrace the new season. For the first time, I have a general seasonal board on Pinterest with all things fall, For the Love of Fall. Throughout the season, I’ll be posting recipes, crafts, outfits, stunning scenery, and other general inspiration. I’m sharing just a small selection from the board here today.  Hop over to the board and follow along, so you don’t miss out on any of the autumn fun this season. (I still have my Fall Photography board from last year going strong as well!)

The Most Simple, Perfect Pumpkin Muffins | http://www.roseclearfield.com

I’m actually not crazy about pumpkin spice everything (don’t hate). I am a huge fan of pumpkin, though. I have pumpkin muffins, pumpkin chocolate chip bread, and pumpkin pie in rotation in the kitchen each fall.

Cranberry Chai Sangria via How Sweet It Is | http://www.roseclearfield.com

Jessica of How Sweet Eats has so many great fall drink recipes. It’s so hard to pick just a couple of them. I’ve been pinning basically everything fall-related that she’s shared over the last month. Last year we had a little get together right after she published her cranberry chai sangria, which is really fabulous.

Recycled Tin Can Pumpkins via Natashalh | http://www.roseclearfield.com

Of course, it wouldn’t be fall without a few pumpkin decorations. The image I’ve featured above is Natasha’s upcycled can pumpkins. On the board, I’m also featuring painted wood slice pumpkins and DIY gilded pumpkins, with lots more to come over the next two months.

Fall DIY Mason Jars via Her Campus | http://www.roseclearfield.com

Mason jars are another classic, versatile decoration for fall. This mason jar DIY project is promoted as dorm decor on a budget. But it’s perfect for anyone looking for simple, affordable autumn decor.

DIY Faux Copper and Felt Leaves Fall Wreath via Dreaming in DIY | http://www.roseclearfield.com

One of my favorite new fall finds this year is this DIY faux copper paper and felt leaves wreath. I love all things leaves, and the simple aesthetic of this piece really appeals to me.

Puffer Vest Sweater Fall Outfit via Sequins and Things | http://www.roseclearfield.com

It still feels like summer here (no complaints!), so I haven’t even begun to switch over to my cooler weather clothes. But I have been shopping for new fall pieces (hello, gorgeous plaid wrap shirts from Grace and Lace), which I’m excited to start wearing when the weather does turn. [Above image: source]

Black Fall Kitty | http://www.roseclearfield.com

Finally, I’m featuring a few general fall inspiration shots, like this adorable fall black kitty. This shot may or may not have ended up on both of my fall boards.

Follow my general For the Love of Fall board as well as my Fall Photography board for autumn inspiration all season long. Happy fall!

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10 Steps to Improve Your Food Photography

10 Steps to Improve Your Food Photography | http://www.roseclearfield.com

One of my favorite aspects of starting and working on this blog the past year and a half has been improving my food photography. I’ve been snapping pictures of my food for articles and social media posts for years. But I didn’t get serious about it until recently. Producing posts with my original recipes and photos of them that I’m really proud of is extremely empowering.

Pineapple and Mango Coconut Smoothie | http://www.roseclearfield.com

While I’m far from an expert on food photography, I have learned quite a bit, mostly through trial and error and studying as many great food photos as I can. Like any type of photography, many people will look at great food photos and assume that the photographer is using a DSLR camera and/or has amazing lighting in his/her kitchen. While a high-end camera and gorgeous lighting are assets for any photographer, there’s a lot more that goes into stunning food photography.

Homemade White Bean Cannellini Hummus | http://www.roseclearfield.com

This week on the Photorec.tv blog, I’m sharing 10 steps to improve your food photography. I walk readers through lighting, basic setup, styling, composition, lens selection, and camera settings. Amateur and experienced photographers alike are sure to pick up a tip or two that will help them take their food photos up a notch.

Baked Potato Soup with Colby-Jack Cheese and Bacon | http://www.roseclearfield.com

I wrote the post for the Photorec.tv audience, which is primarily photographers, not bloggers. I’m going to use that fact as my excuse for not including one of key aspects for my own food photography growth, which is studying great food photographers, basically all of whom are bloggers. Learning from the best is a tried and true method for improving any skill, and food photography is no exception. I have learned the most from Jessica of How Sweet It Is and Lindsay of Pinch of Yum, who actually has a whole section of her blog dedicated to food photography. Find a few food photographers you love with great blogs and stellar images. Follow their Instagram accounts, so you can study their photos regularly.

Family-Friendly, Quick Sloppy Joes Recipe...comes together in just 20 minutes! | http://www.roseclearfield.com

Again, the full food photography post is available on the Photorec.tv blog. Also, the current Photorec.tv Instagram challenge is food (no, not a coincidence). If you’d like to participate, post your best food photography images on Instagram with the tags #PRTV and #PRTV_food2. Limit 2 entries. Recent photos only, please (aka do not go back and tag a food pic from 2015). Check out the full list of PRTV challenges to participate in future challenges as well.

Do you have any additional food photography tips?

Share them here or on the Photorec.tv blog!

More PhotoRec TV posts:

How to Maximize the Potential of Your Kit Lens | http://www.roseclearfield.com

How to Maximize the Potential of Your Kit Lens

How to Take Great Pictures in Low Light Without a Flash | http://www.roseclearfield.com

How to Take Great Pictures in Low Light Without a Flash

10 Quick Tips for Great Reflection Photos | http://www.roseclearfield.com

10 Quick Tips for Great Reflection Photos

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New Baby FAQ

In my two months of Tommy update yesterday, I mentioned that there are a few questions I’ve answered all the time over the past couple of months. I decided to write a separate post with these questions, so my two month update didn’t great crazy long. Since we got Tommy, there are three questions I’ve gotten far more than any other questions.

Tommy 2 Months | http://www.roseclearfield.com

#1 Are you getting any sleep?

When you’re talking to a new parent, please think of a question more original than are you getting any sleep. Seriously, what do you think? You should actually be concerned if someone says they’re sleeping straight through the night consistently with a two month old. The worst part is when I say that I am sleeping and that it hasn’t been that bad, people are just like, what? They don’t really believe me. It seems as though you can’t win.

The first couple of weeks were the hardest. I often felt like I was forcing myself through my regular motions and just narrowly avoiding slamming straight into a wall of exhaustion. But it’s been manageable since then, and I’m not just saying that to put on a good face for public appearance. Tommy has his days and nights figured out and always sleeps his longest stretches at night. He consistently wakes up 1-2 times between midnight and 6:30/7:00 a.m. If we don’t have to go anywhere early in the morning, I can often get him to go back down until 9:00 a.m. or so. When he does wake up, it’s because he’s hungry. I can feed him and get him back down in under an hour.

When Jake was in medical school, I taught special education full-time and went to grad school part-time. It was my very first teaching job. Getting up 1-2 times per night with a newborn really hasn’t been any more exhausting. I think the toddler stage will be much more exhausting.

#2 How are the cats reacting to Tommy?

I’m not sure if people usually ask new parents how their pets are reacting to the baby or if friends and family know that Jake and I are borderline crazy cat people. It’s not a secret that my cats got me through a lot of my darkest days of infertility and still mean the world to me. But I still think it’s funny because I can’t imagine that this is a normal new parent question.

Anyway, the cats have done surprisingly well with Tommy. I was worried that they’d either spend all day hiding under the bed or want to climb right in the bassinet with him. They are smartly cautious around him and are generally okay to hang out near him, even when he’s fussy. They hate baby crying noises on TV, like run out of the room hate. But they definitely understand what the crying and other fussy noises mean when they can see Tommy and know that we’re going to help him. All three cats expect a pretty high level of attention and still make sure that they get it most days.

I still worry about what it’s going to be like when Tommy becomes mobile, but who doesn’t? Several people with cats have assured me that having the cats right from the start (as opposed to adopting them later on with young kids) will help them with the transition. Cats are also pretty good at getting out of harm’s way but still sticking close by. Instead of getting down on the floor with Tommy, they’re likely to hang out on top of the couch instead.

#3 What has surprised you the most about parenthood?

In less seriousness, the notion of working on anything in 20-minute segments or less has never been more real, and I had no idea that one infant would create so much laundry. I have never done anywhere close to this much laundry in my life, especially during the first few weeks with Tommy. Also, again (I talked about this concept more in the two month update), I’d never spent much time around a newborn before and can’t believe how they simultaneously can and can’t do so much all at once.

In seriousness, there are a couple aspects of parenthood that have surprised me a lot. The first aspect is how different my perspective is at 34 than it would have been at 24. At 24, I was newly married and just a year out of college. We actually didn’t start trying to have kids until I was 28. My perspective still would have been very different at 28 when I was brand new to Milwaukee with no job, no close friends in the area, and no adult routine in the city. Again, during medical school, school and work consumed most of our lives. We did get together with family and friends occasionally (we didn’t have nearly as many family and friends closeby as we do now) and would go out to eat once a week or every other week or so. That was about it.

Now at 34, I’m used to going out to eat regularly, visiting family and friends basically whenever I want, and attending all sorts of events in Milwaukee, again, pretty much as I want to do so. I absolutely don’t expect to keep doing exactly what I’ve done the past six years with a newborn. But I’d also go crazy sitting at home all day with a baby, especially in the summer. I’ve been working to maintain a balance of getting out enough that I stay sane but not doing so much that we’re both exhausted and overstimulated all the time.

The whole “huge adjustment” aspect of having kids is also so different at 34. Over the past 10 and a half years, Jake and I have lived in three states and four residences. To say we’ve already undergone multiple major transitions together is a huge understatement. I’m not trying to minimize the adjustment of having a child, but again, it’s not the adjustment it would have been at 24 that it is at 34.

The second aspect is how much I already want a second child. We’ve always known that we’ve wanted at least two kids. When you’re facing infertility, all you can focus on is the first kid. My perspective changed almost as soon as we left the hospital, which shocked me. We will be forever grateful for Tommy and that will never change, even if he’s the only child we ever have. But I do want another one and am already thinking about how that adopting that child is sure to go differently from Tommy’s adoption, whether it will be a boy or a girl, how I want to decorate nursery #2, etc.

Finally, somehow, in two months, I haven’t had to field any questions or comments about the following topics.

  • Why I’m bottle feeding instead of breastfeeding my newborn baby.
  • How I could possibly be old enough to have children.
  • How much it cost to adopt a child.

I have had several people offer to buy Tommy when I’m waiting to check out at the grocery store or Target. I know people mean it to be flattering, but it’s pretty creepy.

What questions did you answer all the time with your babies? Were there questions that did or didn’t surprise you?

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Two Months of Tommy

 

Waiting two months to write a first baby update is crazy because so much changes from week to week, sometimes even day to day, during the first two months of life. From day one, there is so much that I’ve wanted to write down, but I’ve also had no idea where to start. Plus, I’ve felt taking a lot of time out for writing is time that I’d rather be spending with Tommy and other family members, getting something done around the house, or let’s be honest, sleeping. So here we are two months in and I’m finally writing a post about our little guy.

Tommy 2 Months | http://www.roseclearfield.com

Tommy is two months old as of yesterday. He weights 11 pounds 9.5 ounces and is 23 inches long, which puts him at about the 50th percentile for both height and weight.

Tommy is a super chill baby.  Right from the start, he’s only really fussed when he’s hungry or he needs his diaper changed. Sometimes he has a bit of an off day when he’s gassy or growing like crazy and is a little fussy. But even on those days, he’s just fussy. He doesn’t scream for hours on end. It took a little time for him to get used to diaper changes and baths. But he doesn’t mind diaper changes, especially once he realizes how good the new diaper will feel. And he likes baths, which is a lot of fun. He doesn’t like getting his nails clipped but has no other strong dislikes. He enjoys high ceilings and lights and is always curious about his surroundings when he’s in a new location.

Tommy is not very picky. He has yet to get really upset about a certain baby bottle, formula, outfit, etc. He’s let anyone hold him, right from the hospital up until the two-month mark. I know there will be a stage where he only wants Mom and won’t have any of this being passed around business. But it’s been great thus far, especially when other people are around, and I can hand him off to eat or just go to the bathroom without him screaming bloody murder.

Since very early in life, Tommy has had his days and nights figured out. He sleeps his longest stretches at night, usually going down around 9:30/10:00 and waking up 2-3 times (at 2 months, 1-2 times) before 7:30/8:00. If we don’t have to go anywhere early in the morning, he’ll often go back to sleep until 9:00/9:30. He’ll occasionally sleep longer stretches during the day but usually takes a couple of 20-30 minute naps with many one hour nap.

Tommy is more and more alert and responsive every week. While he doesn’t do true social smiles yet, his smiles have definitely been more than just gas since about the 5-6 week mark. He recognizes both my and Jake’s voice and often responds to funny behavior interactions, such as nose touches and kisses. Lately, he’s been testing out his voice all the time, which is sort of my favorite thing ever.

Currently, Tommy is wearing newborn pants and 0-3 or 3 month (depending on the brand) onesies and pajamas. He is a summer boy at heart and doesn’t like having his feet covered. I didn’t put him in socks until after Labor Day. Tommy wore newborn diapers until he was about five weeks old. He’s in size 1 diapers now but won’t be for much longer. 

Tommy eats 2.5-4 ounces of formula at a time. Generally, he eats the largest quantities during the night or first thing in the morning following long stretches of sleep. He prefers to graze during the day, eating 2.5-3 ounces at a time every 2-3 hours.

I’m constantly surprised both by how little and how much babies can do. How can a days old infant who can’t see more than a food in front of his face have such distinct, clear facial expressions? Before having my own child, I’d spent very little time around newborn babies. At least once a day during the first few weeks of life with Tommy, I would do a Google search that started “how/why do newborn babies [fill in the blank]?” Nine times out of 10, the answer surprised me. I’m sure that this will continue to be true through Tommy’s entire first year of life.

More than anything, I’m trying to embrace this stage of life and enjoy everything about having a new baby. I’m so excited for so many aspects of Tommy’s future. It’s easy to get caught up in the things he can’t do instead of appreciating the things he can do or just where we’d at in life. For example, once he starts walking, it’ll be years before I can cook dinner uninterrupted without adult assistance. I’m fully enjoying the fact that I can put him in his bouncy seat and have him not go anywhere while I’m cooking.

I was going to include a few of the questions I’ve answered the most frequently over the last couple of months. But I decided to write a separate post with my questions, so stay tuned for that tomorrow.

I’ll be writing periodic updates about life with Tommy. I’m also planning to write periodic posts with baby favorites, which will include the items I’m loving for myself during this stage of life. I’m planning to publish the first baby favorites post within the next week or so.

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Adoption Update

Tommy Feet Newborn Shoot - Lottie Lillian Photography | http://www.roseclearfield.com

Photography credit: Lottie Lillian Photography

[Trigger warning: In this blog post, I discuss our successful adoption match and the first couple of months with our son. If you’re in a sensitive place due to infertility, miscarriage, pregnancy loss, etc., please proceed with caution.]

It’s been a little quiet around the blog this summer because we went to Europe for two weeks, we were back for two weeks, we had some of our best friends visit for two weeks…and then a little guy entered our world. The day after our friends left, we met with a birth mom and dad, who chose us to be the parents of their child. Initially, we all thought the birth mom was due later in July. But she ended up going into labor right after the matching meeting and delivered the next day.

We had about 24 hours from matching with the parents to meeting our son, with about eight hours from finding out the mom was in labor to arriving at the hospital, just five minutes before he was born. Needless to say, it’s been a whirlwind. As many of you know, Jake and I have been preparing our nursery since the fall, and I’m so so glad that we did. It was still crazy purchasing a car seat (which we brought to the hospital in the box), purchasing a ton of basic newborn supplies (diapers, wipes, onesies, etc.), and getting the cats ready for an unknown length of time absence. But it was SO much less crazy than it would have been scrambling to buy and assemble a bunch of big furniture.

The word that I keep coming back to about the last couple of months is surreal. Of course, I am overjoyed to have this little guy after so many years of waiting and love him more than anything. But I’m still processing everything that’s happened, and I imagine I’ll be processing it all for quite a while. When you’re pregnant, you have nine months to prepare. After five years of trying (and failing) to get pregnant and a year of a half of pursuing adoption, our whole lives changed overnight. While I’m not recovering from giving birth, I am processing a lot emotionally.

I waited to write this post until our little guy is almost two months old because the birth parents didn’t officially terminate their rights until this past Friday. In many states, the termination of rights process takes a few days. In Wisconsin, it takes a month, if not longer. I use my real name on this blog and many other places online. We have met the birth parents and several other members of the birth family, all of whom, like us, live in southeast WI. It didn’t seem right to post anything publicly until after the court date.

I’ve also been extremely conflicted about what I want to post about our adoption and journey into parenthood. I feel strongly about limiting the number of pictures and personal information I share about my kids. I also know what it’s like to see post after post about pregnancy and happy family life when you can’t have kids. Time and time again, I see people who have spent years facing infertility immediately turn around and post extensive details and photos about pregnancy and parenthood, which doesn’t really seem right to me. So I don’t want to do that. But I also don’t want to avoid talking about parenthood and adoption because it’s a huge part of my life. Not posting anything publicly until now doesn’t feel great either.

I don’t know exactly how much I’ll be discussing parenthood and adoption on this blog. I promise it isn’t going to turn into a mommy blog. I love sharing DIY projects, home decor, holiday/seasonal inspiration, recipes, and all things photography and don’t intend to stop covering any of these topics anytime soon. Also, as evidenced by my lack of posting lately, I’m sure it’s not surprising that most likely I won’t be posting as often as usual for the foreseeable future. I’d like to get into a 1-2 posts a week routine, but I’m not quite there yet. Please bear with me during this continued transition period.

To those who have been praying for and thinking about us throughout our long journey to parenthood and have continued to ask about adoption, thank you. As we started 2017, it really felt like it was going to be our year. I truly believe the power of prayer played a huge role in this shift and ultimately, the adoption of our son. It means the world to us to have so much support.

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