Friday, September 19, 2014

Gif Practice

Lately I have been keeping myself very busy with my two kiddos and lots of various work stuff! I was looking at the hours I am logging and no wonder I feel so busy! On top of all the work, we have been having major car issues. We spent a small fortune on break issues and then thought maybe it was time to look into getting into something else. While digging through some papers on the car, I found that we purchased an extended warranty when we bought the car! We have been thanking our past selves and are getting some repairs done and hope to recoup some of the costs we have already paid. Score! Also dealing with stupid medical insurance stuff and just life in general, my personal / home errands, calls, etc. keep me so busy.

The very best part though is that my mom and grandma are coming to visit us from Utah!!! We are so excited and have been busy trying to get work stuff wrapped up, spruce up around the house, plan activities, etc! So much fun stuff (mixed with some not fun stuff) going on right now for us.

How did I do all of this while working full time?? It's funny how quickly you adjust to whatever situation you are in and can't figure out how you made it work before that. But life is really great and I like being busy.

I am super excited to test something out right now. I taught myself how to make a .gif animation from pictures and want to see how it works when I upload it. These pictures are a few years old but clicking through them in order always gives me a good laugh. I have a hilarious husband and he knows it!


Let's see how they look in .gif!


It worked!!! Oh my, I love it! So fun. 
Now back to other work. Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Introducing Libby Flora-Juliette Reed

My little baby is already a month old! I can hardly believe it! Let's just say life doesn't always go according to plan but a lot of the time, it ends up being better. My baby girl is a prime example of that. The knowledge of her existence has changed everything for our family and we are so lucky to have her! Let me introduce our little Libby Flora-Juliette Reed.




Here are the announcements I designed for her.



These pictures were taken when she was 12 days old. She has already changed so much, it's crazy how time seems to move faster with kids.

We just call her Libby. Her middle name is a combination of her great grandmother's names on both sides. I had the idea in the hospital to do the double middle name. We toyed with the idea of naming her Juliette, which is so feminine and beautiful along with the family meanings but in the end it just didn't end up being the name. Juliette represents two of my grandmothers and I really wanted my side honored so the two middle names really work well for that. I have rarely heard of people using two middle names and that is part of what did it for us. Her brother has such a strong, unique middle name of "Thunder", this was our feminine approach to that idea. What an ordeal it is to pick the perfect name (and have your partner agree to it!) and hope the kid will like it in the end!

Everything has been so great since she arrived. The hospital stay was wonderful. She is perfect and really quite a good baby. Our family feels complete in a way I didn't realize it wasn't before.

I will say that bringing home baby number 2 was a bigger adjustment than baby number 1, at least for me. I thought I knew it would be but was surprised at how different it was than I expected. We did a lot with our son Reece to help prep him. He loves babies and knew my big ole belly was called "baby" but he didn't know what it would mean to have one at home. He has loved his sister since the moment he saw her, the first meeting in the hospital was so fun and memorable. Maybe because the hospital was such a fantastic experience, I was surprised by what happened when we got home. Reece started having some outbursts and his temperament was so different than normal for him. He was very clingy to me. We are still adjusting and working through it, trying to figure out how to give them both the love and attention they need. Through it all though, Reece has not associated these things with the baby, he doesn't seem to have any resentment towards her, he just knows life is different.

Bringing her into his room each morning to wake him up, is my favorite part of the day. I hope I never forget the way he says "oh Libby" and asks to kiss her. He really is so sweet and I can't wait to see how they grow together.

Being a parent is my favorite job so far! I love it!

Monday, August 11, 2014

Rebranding



If you have been to my site before, you have probably noticed some big changes. Life has been crazy and I have been a little lost. I am rebranding a lot about myself, not just my online presence. This blog started 7 years ago as a personal blog. Going back through some of my posts is fun and a little embarrassing. I have always wanted this to be more than just a personal rant page, not necessarily making money off of it but more than it has been at times. I have struggled with confining myself in a box. I feel like to display my photography and drum up business, I needed to have a separate website dedicated just to that and lose all of the personal stuff. The same goes for design, crafts, recipes, personal, etc. I over think what "should" be here and so I don't post anything. Well I have decided to give that up. I find I am restraining my creativity by over thinking things like that and what I "should" do, although I don't know who I think has come up with those "should" rules, but whatever.

For those who know me, I have had a lot of changes in my life lately. All wonderful and exciting. This is my time to figure out what I want and to make it happen. I have a beautiful new little baby girl and am now a stay at home mom to her and my awesome son. I moved across the country and am learning how to meet new people when I have only ever lived within a 30 mile radius. All new challenges. I feel inspired and scared and excited, I want to latch on to all of that and make something of myself with this new found freedom of not having a boss.

I grew up in a very creative family. I watched my mom create and design wood crafts most of my life. I helped her create them and teach others how to create their own. I have felt like wood is her thing, unless it is furniture related, and I wanted to find my own way. But honestly, in addition to my photography and design world, wood is what I know and I enjoy working with it. I am starting to realize I can combine all of my loves and also enjoy them separately while maintaining my own personal style. So why can't I share them together along with some personal things? So I am going to do just that.

This started out as stephenandjessika.com because of the heavily personal side of the blog but since I will be moving away from some of that (I won't ever fully lose that, I am a pretty open and like to share myself with others), I think focusing on the creative side of things is more what the focus needs to be so Jessika Reed Studios is taking over.

There is the explanation of the new look and merging of names. Now onto the fun and creative stuff!

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Mexican Casserole


This recipe comes from Stephen's mom and it is one of our favorites. He would rave about it so one day, when we were dating, I asked him to get me the recipe so I could make it for him. It is so full of flavor, filling and the best part is it so easy!!! It's a dump and bake kind of recipe, which is my favorite kind on days like today.

We usually shop on the weekends together but sometimes we miss things or are too busy and I have to venture out on my own during the week. It is hot. Like really hot here and it's barely June. The heat and humidity are probably the biggest adjustment for me here and I am sure being pregnant doesn't help. Plus Reece hasn't been feeling well but we still needed to get out of the house and pick up some things. While at the store, for the first time ever, I had a lady comment on how pregnant I am and look. She said I barely looked like I was making it and that I must be due any day now, nope lady I've still got a month and a half left but THANKS, way to make a girl feel good. Anyway, after that outing, the heat, recovering from a comment that basically meant I looked like crap, and three trips from the car to our basement apt to unload all of the groceries, I dreaded seeing 4 pm on the clock and knowing I had to throw something together for dinner. This casserole was for sure the trick I needed and Stephen was ecstatic when he got home and found out what was cooking.

Here is the quick way to deliciousness:

1 lb ground beef
1 onion, chopped
1 can Rotel Stewed Tomatoes
1 can Corn
1 can Red Kidney Beans
1 cup Grated Cheese
1 1/2 pkg Cornbread (I use Jiffy but other kinds work just as well - some people who have tried this think it's too much cornbread / too sweet so feel free to reduce to one pkg if you like less)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Brown the ground beef and onions. Meanwhile, open the cans and drain them all. Once the beef is done, remove from heat, drain and then pour the cans and cheese right into the pan and mix. Pour the beef mixture into a deep casserole dish. 


In a bowl, mix the cornbread according to the pkg in a bowl. Spoon the cornbread mixture evenly on top. It will start spilling down into them mixture like this.


Bake for 25-35 minutes. If you do more than one cornbread mix, as we do, you will need to go closer to the higher end for sure. Poke the cornbread with a tooth pick in the middle, if it comes out clean then you are good to go.


This stuff is hearty, sweet and super tasty! The leftovers are great as well. Enjoy!

Monday, June 2, 2014

Fruit Salad


This recipe is from Stephen, it's one of his favorites. When he told me about some of the ingredients, I was hesitant, very hesitant. Miracle Whip and fruit? Well I gave it a shot and it really works and you can't taste that it is Miracle Whip. It is super fluffy, creamy, light and just very delicious. It's almost like a dessert. I make it sometimes but usually this is a specialty of Stephen's so I thought I better let him drive the work for this post while I documented. He had a bit of fun pouring things in and letting me take pictures, he keeps me laughing all the time!

Here's what you need:

6 T Miracle Whip
3 T Milk
3 T Sugar
3 Apples
4 Bananas
2 C Mini Marshmallows
1 C Pecans - optional

Start by making your sauce. Combine the Miracle Whip, milk and sugar.


Whisk until well blended. 


Chop up your fruit in bite sized chunks and add to the sauce. 


If you're like Stephen, add a little juggling in to make it a fun process.


Mix as you go to keep everything evenly coated. Mix in the marshmallows and then pecans. *When we make this for a large group we usually leave out the pecans to avoid any allergy issues but they really make the dish so much better, so keep them in when you can. 


Mix again to be sure it's all well covered.



Refrigerate and serve within an hour or so or serve immediately, although it is best cold so I'll stick it in the freezer for a few minutes if we want to eat it right away. This won't keep well so be sure to plan for that! 

That's it. Super easy and quick. It's perfect for a BBQ or potluck. I have never had anything like it and it is always a hit. If we are making this just for our little family, we will do 1/2 recipe.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Caprese Chicken


With my first pregnancy, and now with this one, I really don't like chicken or any white meat for that matter. The texture seems off and I just have a hard time with it. However, I don't think it is that healthy to have just red meat when I do have meat so I try to eat white meat. I have been feeling in a rut and since we moved across the country and sold our grill before leaving, I haven't liked our regular white meat meals. I remembered this from my high school days working for a group home and some of the meals we would help the residents make. It is super juicy, moist and full of flavor. I have only ever made it from memory and I am sure it has been tweaked from what my supervisor at the group home taught me but this is the way I like it. 

Here are the details:

4 Chicken Breasts
4 Fresh Tomatoes
1 TBSP Basil
4-8 Slices of Mozzarella Cheese

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Cover a cookie sheet in foil and spray with cooking spray. Pound out the chicken breasts so they are pretty even in thickness and layout them out on the sheets. Sprinkle with a little salt. Once the oven is heated, bake the chicken for 10 minutes. 


While that is cooking, slice the tomatoes, plan on about 3 slices for each breast. Reserve a 1/2 tomato. After the timer goes off, take out the sheet and flip the chicken. Take the reserved 1/2 tomato and squeeze the juice over the top of the breasts. Place the sliced tomatoes over the breasts. 


Sprinkle the basil over the tomatoes and then lay the sliced mozzarella, one or two slices per breast depending on your taste. Return the pan to the oven and cook another 10 minutes or until the internal temperature is at 165 degrees. 


You'll have a moist juicy chicken breast, full of flavor. It's perfect with a side salad or even the pine nut pasta salad I posted the other day. Enjoy.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Pine Nut Pasta Salad



This pasta salad is so yummy, delicious and perfect for your next BBQ or dinner. My mom text me the other day and said she was making this for dinner. I haven't stopped thinking about it since then. As I started to make it, I thought "why don't we have this more often? Who doesn't like pasta salad?" Then I realized, oh wait, my husband doesn't like pasta salad. I began wondering if it was a good idea for me to make it but I wanted it and he will try anything I make so I kept with it and I am so glad I did because it was better than I remember. Plus it is so easy and fast, you'll have a pile of pasta salad in no time. 

Here are the details: 

1 lb fusilli pasta
1/2 cup pine nuts
1/2 red pepper chopped
1/2 cup sliced olives
1 (6 oz) package crumbled feta cheese
3-4 tomatoes, chopped
1/2 cup olive oil
Juice of 1 lemon
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
Pepper to taste

Cook pasta according to package directions. While that's cooking, start chopping your veggies and set aside. Get a bowl to mix the olive oil, lemon, garlic and pepper to make dressing. Once pasta is finished, rinse with cold water and drain. Pour pasta in serving bowl and mix in veggies. Drizzle dressing over pasta and mix again. Pour on feta cheese and pine nuts and mix one last time. Refrigerate or serve immediately. This makes a large batch perfect for a main dish or side dish. 

For the record, Stephen took 2 bites and did not like it but I ate every last bite and the leftovers later.