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Holiday Photos {Lauren Alexandra}

It's time for the 4th annual holiday photos at Lauren Alexandra this Saturday from 11:00am to 4:00pm.  Spend $100 at Lauren Alexandra by Saturday, October 21st and get a 15-minute mini holiday photo session with Christy B Photography.  Can't make it in to the store before Saturday?  Call the store, purchase a $100 gift card & schedule your time-slot - 816-822-2539.  Limited spots left.  Print and holiday card photo packages start at $75.

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What's In My Closet {CHRISTY B}

It's been a long time since I've done a "What's In My Closet" blog post.  Since it's peak senior and family photo season, I thought it might be good to share a few outfits that can work both for everyday wear and also for photos.  

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This outfit can work for a mom or a senior.  The cute oversized sweater, under $20 when not on sale, can be worn as shown or off the shoulder.  I paired it with a bralette with cute straps.  The jeans are my newest discovery from Target.  Super cute and super affordable.  The boots were from Free People but they don't carry them anymore.  I did find similar ankle boots at DSW. 

*click images below to shop*  

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Rainy day outfit, fun senior photos outfit or cute outfit for mom to build family photo attire around.  Start with this outfit for mom, pull the red of the boots into a red dress for a girl, black pants and a red plaid shirt for a boy and jeans and a black button down for dad.  Super cute and casual.  

There are so many styling options with each individual item in this outfit.  The denim shirt can be worn with leggings, colored jeans, buttoned, unbuttoned over a shirt or tied around the waist.  The $10 striped shirt is perfect for layering under a button front shirt, with a sleeveless or puffer vest,  under a sweater, etc.  Leggings can be dressed down with tennis shoes or dressed up with a nice sweater and tall boots and are always comfortable.  And finally, the Hunter boots.  They aren't cheap but I can tell you from experience, they are SO worth the money.  I've worn mine in the snow, standing in water at tailgates in the pouring rain, when it's wet or muddy at a photo session and they just wipe off clean when I'm done.  I love my Hunter boots!

*click images below to shop*  

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I am no hunter but I am obsessed with camo in my wardrobe this fall.  This dress is a fav.  It's long enough that I don't have to worry about what's showing and it's so comfy.  I love it paired with these affordable over-the-knee boots (as of today, on sale for $26).  The denim shirt makes an appearance again tied around the waist.  This outfit would work for senior girls or mommas in family photos.      

*click images below to shop*  

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The Most Amazing Invention Ever {Instant Pot}

OH! MY! GOSH!  One day I was scrolling through Instagram and saw someone post about trying out a new kitchen gadget.  They were cooking a brisket from start to finish in one hour.  It piqued my interest so I did a little research.  The Instant Pot is basically a new and improved (safer) pressure cooker but even better.  It takes the place of a slow cooker, a rice cooker, a steamer and you can even saute your meat right in the pot before cooking it.  Less dirty dishes!  Holla!

 My birthday happened to be coming up so I told my family I wanted an Instant Pot.  Why would I want an appliance that requires me cook for my birthday, you ask?  I'm a classic "wait until the last minute to decide what's for dinner" kind of person.  If I can decide at 5:00pm what to fix, throw it in and have it done by 6:30, I'M SOLD!

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So, I got the 6 Quart, 7-in-1 Instant Pot for my birthday.  And, I've used it pretty much everyday since.  I've successfully made barbacoa beef from a 2 pound roast in an hour, homemade applesauce without an ounce of sugar in 10 minutes, a 2 pound brisket in an hour that fell apart when removed from the pot, Chocolate Lava mini cakes in 8 minutes (made them twice because they were so good) and potato soup in 10 minutes - complete with cooking crispy bacon in the pot first, no boiling the potatoes, just throw all the ingredients in the pot, hit the "soup" setting and let it do it's thing for 10 minutes.  This thing is amazing!   

I've shared my love of the Instant Pot on my Snapchat (@thechristyB) and had several people ask me about it or where it can be purchased which is why I wrote this blog post.  If you're a working parent and struggle with getting dinner on the table after you get home, or are a procrastinator like me, you need this thing in your life, I promise.  In my opinion, it's pretty reasonably priced.  There are three different size options - 3 quart, 6 quart or 8 quart.  I have the 6 quart.  I would say you can easily cook meals for 4 in the 6 quart.  Though for the most part, I'm cooking for two these days, if I had it to do over again, I would get the 8 quart model.  You can cook things like bread and even cheesecake in the Instant Pot by putting the actual dish in the pot.  The dishes have to be smaller to do this in the 6 quart version.    

The Instant Pot is also pretty reasonably priced considering in combines multiple appliances into one.  The small version starts at $69, the medium at $99 and the large at $110 to $130 depending on which options you choose.  Since I've gotten mine, I have seen sales for $20 off, so I'm betting you can get some good deals as Christmas gets closer.  

If you're like me and you can't wait until Christmas to have this baby in your life, I've put some purchase links here for you.  Double bonus, they are available on Amazon and you can get one in two days if you have Amazon Prime.  The Instant Pot is also sold at Target.

This is not a sponsored post.  I just really love the Instant Pot and wanted to share the love.  If you get one, I hope you like it as much as I do.  

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Soft Pretzels with Cheese Sauce {Cooking with ChristyB}

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Tell me I'm not the only one that goes in phases when it comes to cooking.  Sometimes I find time to plan an entire month's worth of dinners at once.  Other times, I have no idea what to fix, no desire to go to the store and can barely find the energy to cook.  I just can't seem to keep it together on a regular basis.  Coming up with meal ideas is the WORST!

With both kids away at college, I'm in one of my organized phases because I'm looking forward to trying out some of the recipes the kids would never eat.  (Keep in mind, it's only been three days since they left.  We'll see how long the organized phase lasts this time.)

It's also nice not to have to cook a full meal sometimes.  These homemade soft pretzels with cheese sauce were just enough for a light bite for two.  And, they aren't as hard to make as you would think.  

If you would like to give them a try, you can find the recipes here:

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The Next Phase

Because so many have asked, I thought I would give an update to our home situation.  If you read the blog regularly, you remember that we sold our home of 18 years last January (HERE and HERE).  We were originally going to build a custom home.  After we sold our house, we finally settled into our rental and were ready to start the building process.  Unfortunately, the final build price came back WAY over the estimate.  It was either stretch our budget to the max or start the home search again.  As fate would have it, the home we were renting was for sale, had nearly 5 acres of land and was almost double the size as what we would get building new.

Today it became official.  Our rental is now our new fixer upper.  I can't wait to get started on it's facelift.  I have more space than I thought I would ever have, so much storage that I've got empty cabinets waiting to be filled and lots of land perfect for creating unique outdoor shooting spaces.  It's on to the next phase of life as empty nesters with both kids in college and a new home to put our stamp on.        

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From a Senior to a Freshman Again {Dorm Room Inspirations}

I can remember it like it was yesterday.  My little 2-seater Mazda RX-7 packed to the ceiling with crisp new peach colored bedding, white plastic storage shelves, and way more clothes & shoes than I ever needed.  My parents followed along with more stuff I had carefully crossed of my detailed college packing list as we made the two and a half hour trip to Springfield and my new dorm room at (then) Southwest Missouri State University.  It was the beginning of a lifetime of awesome memories.  

And now it's your turn 2017 seniors!!  

I will soon have my Jeep loaded to the ceiling as I follow my own daughter to move her into her new dorm room at (now) Missouri State University in the exact same dorms that I stayed in all those years ago.  MAN time flies!!

In my day, the only big decision we made was what color bedding we were going to choose.  These days, it's not just the bedding but the pillows, rugs, throw blankets, wall decor, etc.  It's like designing a luxury suite now.  And I'm all about helping in any way I can.  For my 2017 seniors preparing to become freshman once again, here are some room decor ideas to help inspire your very own dorm room design.  And get ready to make awesome memories!!

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GIRLS: Simple tips to make your dorm room extra cozy

1.  Add a faux fur skin to your desk chair.    

2.  Turn your bed into a daybed that serves as seating during the day and a cozy bed at night by adding a variety of fun decorative pillows and a cute throw blanket.

3.  Add a little flair on your desk with faux succulents.  No need to remember to water.   Cute & stylish.

4.  Printed tapestries are all the rage right now.  Add a splash of color to your room by hanging them on the wall or at the head of the bed for a simple headboard.  Even more cozy, hang a sheer bed canopy over the bed wrapped in a strand of lights for late night studying.

5.  For super simple decor with no wall damage, attach removable dots or decals to the walls.     

6.  What girl wouldn't want to display those images of her friends & family in her Instagram feed?  Print out those photos and hang from an LED photo clip light strand.  

7.  Make a statement with a light-up or felt letter board.  Change the sayings with your mood.  



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GUYS: Simple tips to make your dorm room extra cozy

1.  Flag tapestries, college and team flags make easy wall decor.  

2.  Try storage trunks for more storage then use at the foot of the bed or as a bedside table.

3.  Keep track of the next party (I mean study date) and hang photos of family & friends on a cool stainless steel magnetic dry erase board.     

4.  Store dirty laundry in a laundry duffle bag.  When it's time to head down to the washing machines or back home to mom, just throw it on your back.  Folds away for compact storage when not in use.  

5.  Add some festive lighting with a three-sided stop light or fun plug-in neon light.

6.  For comfy seating that doesn't take up a lot of space, try a bean bag chair.



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DIY Decor

1.  Geometric Memo Board:  Paint hexagon cork board tiles, lay out desired pattern, using removable wall tabs, secure to wall.  Hang photos, notes, or jewelry.   SOURCE

 2.  Clipboard Wall Art:  Hang a variety of clipboards in various sizes on the wall.  Display printed quotes, drawings, a calendar or photos.  Easy to change out art with holidays or as your mood changes.   SOURCE WITH PRINTABLES

3.  Tassel Garland:  Use tissue paper and twine to create a fun wall accent.  SOURCE

4.  String Art:  Using lightweight cork board instead of wood makes this project perfect for damage free hanging using removable wall tabs.  SOURCE

5.  Washi Tape Line Art:  Use inexpensive washi tape to add color and design to walls.  Doesn't damage walls.  SOURCE

6.  Decorate Your Fridge:  Even the refrigerator can be dressed up.  Use chalkboard paint and/or washi tape to add flair.  Top it off with fun magnets.   SOURCE

7.  Driftwood Jewelry Hanger:  By simply using a piece of driftwood, twine and a few nails, you can create a gorgeous display for your jewelry.  SOURCE 

8.  Washi Tape Clothespin Wall Hangers:  Cover clothespins with washi tape.  Cut removable wall poster tabs in half to fit the back side of clothespins.  Hang on the wall to hold photos, drawings, notes, etc.   SOURCE


Dorm Room Pinterest Inspiration Board

For even more dorm room inspiration, check out our Pinterest board.

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It's Birthday Week Around Here

Hip, hip, hooray!  It's birthday week.  TEN years ago I officially announced the opening of Christy B Photography with a float in the Cass County Fair parade.  Fast forward to this year, the fair marked the opening of our brand new studio space in downtown Pleasant Hill as I watched the parade pass by through the windows of the studio.  Thank you to everyone that stopped in to see me after the parade.  It was great talking with you and sharing the new space.  Here's to ten more fun-filled years of doing my dream job with the most amazing clients!

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The Cass County fair just happens to mark another birthday around here, as well.  This time last year we held one of our senior group photo shoots in the carnival at the fair.  Toward the end of the shoot we stopped to play a game thinking maybe one of the girls would win a stuffed animal we could use in the photos.  

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They won alright!  But it wasn't a stuffed animal.  It was alive.     

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One year ago Fishy came home from the fair and has lived happily ever after since.  He's made it through two moves, two cats that like to sneak drinks out of his bowl, and a near death experience on the floor (came out one morning to find him on the floor, thought he was dead, picked up up with a paper towel, he flopped around, put him back in his bowl and it's like nothing ever happened) and he's still going strong.  Happy birthday, Fishy!  The girls saved you from a life on the road as a carny.   

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ROUND 5 {2017 CASS COUNTY FAIR BABY SHOW + WEE KING & QUEEN CONTEST}

Say it isn't so.  We've come to the final day of pics from this year's Cass County Fair Baby Show / Wee King & Queen Contest.  I've had so much fun sharing these adorable images here on the blog.  It's always a crazy busy but super fun week!

To the parents of this year's contestants that stopped by for photos: within the next week, multiple images of each child will be uploaded to our baby show webpage for your viewing pleasure.  For those that would like to purchase prints, pricing and ordering information can also be found on the page.  The website is:  http://www.christyBphotography.com/babyshow  Thanks so much for allowing me to photograph your sweet children!

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ROUND 4 {2017 CASS COUNTY FAIR BABY SHOW + WEE KING & QUEEN CONTEST}

The fun continues on the blog this week.  Here's round 4 of littles from the Cass County Fair Baby Show / Wee King & Queen Contest.  Hope everyone is having fun at the fair!  Tomorrow will round out our baby show contestant peeks.  I don't know about you but I don't want it to end.  They are all so C-U-T-E!  See you back here tomorrow. 

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Round 1 {2017 Cass County Fair Baby Show + Wee King & Queen Contest}

July always means two things...

1.  July 20th brings around another birthday for Christy B Photography.  This year is extra special.  We are celebrating TEN YEARS of business in 2017!  Not only that, we are debuting our new commercial studio space.  Watch this blog for peeks of the new studio soon.  Even better, stop in before or after the parade on Saturday morning to cool off, grab a bottle of water and check out the new space - 125 Veterans Parkway (across from the Post Office).  I would love to see you!

2.  July means the Cass County Fair is coming to Pleasant Hill.  It's my favorite time of the year because I get to photograph the cutie pies of the Baby Show / Wee King & Queen Contest.  It's an honor each year.  Over the next five days, the contestants that stopped by for a photo will be featured here on the blog.  Be sure to check in each day for another dose of cuteness.  Let's begin with Round 1.  

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Daisy Mae {The New Christy B Mascot}

Introducing Miss Daisy Mae, our new dalmatian puppy.  She joined our family yesterday at 8 weeks old and already thinks she's a lap dog.  She's the sweetest thing!   Daisy will be keeping me company at the new studio this summer.  She'll be looking forward to people stopping by to give her some lovin'.  

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The Cobbler's Daughter + {An Announcement}

The case of the cobbler's daughter strikes again.  To say this year has been Crazy with a capital C for our family would be an understatement.  Between moving to/from three different homes since February and still now knowing exactly where we are going to land for good, blessed, crazy busy work schedules, moving one child to an new place at college, having a senior prepping to graduate high school and taking on an exciting new project, there hasn't been one single free minute in life since last year.  

This past weekend was (what I hope) the commencement of some of the craziness.  We are temporarily in our rental house, our son has successfully moved to his new place for the next semester, our daughter has graduated high school and Saturday was her graduation party.  She is considering a career in business with an emphasis on event planning.  Knowing that, I had to throw her the best grad. party I could.  Only problem, I had to find the time to carry it off.  3:00am bedtimes and 5:30am wake-up calls became the norm in order to keep up with my own senior client photos, sports photos and planning her graduation party.  I had grand plans, most of which came to fruition but not without a few FAILS along the way.  

Fail #1:  I hoped to photograph the event after it was all set up.  That didn't happen.  In fact, 30 minutes after the party started, I was still putting out the food.  Positive #1: I was able to get the few photos on my cell phone during the party.  No professional, polished photos but I did get some photos.    

Fail #2:  There was a cake.  Key word being was.  We ordered a two-tiered blank cake that we decorated to match the purple and gold glitter theme.  When it was time to load everything to take to the party venue, the cake wasn't packed level in the vehicle.  When we opened the cake at the party, one side was entirely smashed and the second tier slid off.  Positive #2:  Thankfully I had baked plenty of cupcakes and the cake wasn't missed.  

Fail #3:  Just before moving, our garage refrigerator quit working.  With all of the moving here to there, we haven't had a chance to replace it.  I cooked all of the food for the party.  That morning, I ran out of room for everything in the fridge so the cream cheese mints were set out earlier than desired.  Half were coated in purple sprinkles.  Half were white with purple sprinkles mixed in.  When we went to set them out for the party, they were just warm enough that the dye from the purple sprinkles melted all over the white mints making them look less desirable.  Positive #3:  They were still edible even if they didn't look perfect.

Fail #4 (and probably the biggest of them all):  I photograph seniors as my profession.  I had a senior in high school this year.  We squeezed in her senior photos on my birthday the first weekend of October 2016.  I thankfully had super great holiday and spring portrait seasons so I postponed editing my own senior's photos until just before her party knowing the typical turn from my print labs.  After a full day and night of editing, the photos were ordered and scheduled to arrive the day before the party.  Perfect.  Only, not so perfect when I got the notification that there had been an "unexpected delay" with the delivery and were then scheduled to arrive the day of the party.   Positive #4:  I was still able to set up and video slideshow of her images.  And, the photos did arrive, albeit an hour after the party started.  They weren't framed and hung perfectly on the walls, but they were there and set out for those that arrived later to the party.    Just as the cobbler's children have no shoes, my daughter had no senior photos for her party...until she did.  

All in all, the party was a success.  We were blessed with many family and friends that were able to attend to celebrate our daughter and this great milestone in her life.  There may have been many fails in the party process along the way.  In the end, they just proved to be comical memories the added to the fun of the day.  

With that, here is the video slideshow of her senior images that saved the day at the party:

And a few cell phone snapshots from the party.

If you made it this far, you get to know a little secret I've been keeping for awhile.  Notice the building in the photos above where we held the graduation party.  That is the new commercial location of Christy B Photography.   There is still a bit of work to do before we officially open up the studio but it's getting there (and another reason things have been so crazy busy lately).  I can't wait to share the finished product and to start shooting in the new space.  Exciting things happening in 2017! 

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