Come Visit the new site!

The time has come for me to blend my photography with my love for blogging and create a place for families to come and hang out or get their very own family photo session.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

#ThrowBackThursday Tidbit | Iowa Family Photographer

Pin It
Every Thursday I will try to pull out a photo from previous years to show the transformation that a year can bring to a business and photographer. If you are just getting started as a photographer my best advice is to carry your camera EVERYWHERE and read EVERY tidbit you can find to help you grow.

growth as a photographer
Be sure to visit my Google+ page to follow and find more photos!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Tech Savy Toddler | Our Favorite Apps

Pin It
For all you mom's and dad's out there this is a quick little list of our FAVORITE Apps for our iPad for under $5. I used to think that free Apps were the way to go but after repeatedly having to block advertisements I decided to invest in a few.
Tips from the Heart

Here are the Apps we love at our house:

1. ABC order
My boys have so much fun drawing lines on the main screen to "capture" the letters as they drag them around. A fun way to practice the alphabet and play with letters.

2. Create a Car
This one is for the mechanically minded child. My four year old especially loves building and learning how mechanical things work. This is a simplified version that is easy enough for a toddler to do and has plenty of options for school aged children to make things more complex. Also a great practice for hand eye coordination in the highway portion when they use their finger to move the vehicle through obstacles in the highway.
easy tech for kids

3. Endless Reader - GOLD STAR in my opinion
When I pulled my younger son out of playschool to save a bit of money I felt like I wanted to find something that would help him learn in a fun way. He LOVES getting on the iPad because it is a special treat at our house. We try to limit to no more than 1/2 hour to 1 hour at a time. This App is an amazing, fun and engaging way for kids of all reading levels to learn. We originally had just the free version but wanted to unlock the entire alphabet and did so for under $5. Pretty cool.

4. Let's Color
This one is totally free and amazing. You have loads of pictures to color with all sorts of mediums. Plus you can take photos and color them too. Making each drawing interact able takes this App to the next level. Slurpee straws and spitting elephants are some of our favorites. Laughing together is a must with this one. Such a fun drawing App!
our favorite Apps

5. Max & Ruby Science
If you are looking for a great way to make science a bit more fun and easy to understand for a toddler this App is great. We love to learn about the properties of heat and cold as well as working on problem solving and hand eye coordination. Plus the creative play portion is so much fun, an App that reminds me of my old Colorforms of the 80's.

Those are our top 5 favorite Apps from iTunes. We are currently needing to find just the right math based App for toddlers and I would love to hear from you about your favorites!
our favorite Toddler apps
Have fun learning!
We were in no way, shape or form paid or asked to present these opinions. They are solely based on our direct experiences with the products. 

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Pizza and Chocolate Should be the Only 2 Food Groups? | pinTerST Kitchen

Pin It
Pizza tends to be a re-occurring theme here on my blog, as does chocolate. It is a rotation between two delicious foods and quite possibly the only two food groups needed if I had an endless metabolism. 1) Pizza 2) Chocolate. 

Giving up refined sugar and artificial sweeteners 31 days ago has not been easy. However, I do allow myself one serving of pizza on occasion. Both of these recipes I tried out a month or so on Pinterest and simply haven't had the willpower to share them with you until now.

I'm sorting through lot's of things in my life right now. Searching for just the perfect balance between Jesus, marriage, children, work, finances, health, sleep, and hobbies. I'm finding that if I put them in that order exactly I am doing 5 million times better already. Sure, that might mean putting this beloved blog and photography career on hold but it has been worth it so far. When I learn more I will share but for now I will just share the perfect balance of the only two food groups needed.
Pizza and Chocolate. :)

The craving hit for Bubble pizza and I had seen recipes all over Pinterest for it but of course I didn't have any biscuit dough in my refrigerator. So I pulled out my trusty Better Homes and Garden's Cook Book and found the biscuit recipe.
biscuit recipe

Biscuits: Better Homes & Gardens

3 cups flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
3/4 cup butter or 1/2 cup butter and 1/4 cup shortening
1 cup milk

  1. In a large bowl stir together the flour, baking powder, sugar, salt, and cream of tartar. Using a pastry blender, cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture. Add milk all at once. Using a fork, stir just until moistened.
  2. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead dough by folding and gently pressing dough for four to six strokes or just until dough holds together. Pat or lightly roll dough until 3/4 inch thick. Cut dough with a floured 2-1/2-inch biscuit cutter, rerolling scraps as necessary.

Bubble Pizza: adapted from Plain Chicken 

1 recipe of Biscuits (see above)
1 jar pizza sauce
Pizza toppings
8 oz. mozzarella

Preheat oven to 375 degree. Mix up one recipe of Biscuit dough and cut into 1 inch pieces.Toss biscuit dough with the pizza sauce and half of the cheese. Grease pan and place covered dough pieces and cheese into pan. Top with whatever toppings you want and then the rest of the cheese.  Bake for 25 minutes or until biscuits are golden brown and cheese is bubbling. 

recipe for pizza


Then.... when you think of chocolate and Pinterest it can be dangerous. I was having another Sunday afternoon craving that couldn't be met unless I improvised with my ingredients on hand. And thus Mud Avalanche bars were born.
chocolate Avalanche bars

Mud Avalanche Bars: adapted from Cookies and Cups

1/4 cup peanut butter
12 oz semi sweet chocolate chips
3 cups cereal (I used a combination of Rice Krispies and Special K with Chocolate)
1 cup marshmallows

Melt the chocolate chips in the microwave stirring every 30 seconds until smooth. Stir in peanut butter. Pour over cereal and mix until coated. Stir in marshmallows and spread onto a greased jelly roll pan.

Stick in fridge to help set up.

Cut into bars and enjoy!
easy recipe

chocolate and peanut butter

easy desert recipe

chocolate and marshmallows

Pizza and Chocolate.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Good Luck from your "Peeps" | Cake Design

Pin It
They've caught wind of me. The fact that I can make a mean chocolate cake with the perfect buttercream frosting. The fact that I am a sucker for taking on more than I have time to do. And this is when I get creative.

After working with the same crew for years, day in and day out, on a part time basis you tend to get sentimental when a co-worker moves on to bigger and better things. Today we are wishing a co-worker good luck with a new job and a cake is the celebratory sign for "we wish you luck!" I usually try to think of something that the co-worker loves or enjoys talking about. But this time, being surrounded by every color of the rainbow of Peeps I had a plan.

photo of cake

Good luck from your "Peeps" just seemed to fit.

green frosting

clever cake decorating

peeps on cake

cake decoration

I dare you to try this fail-proof chocolate cake recipe and the most delicious buttercream frosting. Why not add some extra sugar in the form of Peeps?

Get Dad Excited for Photos | Iowa City Family Photographer

Pin It
Outdoor Family photos

It's just about that time of year again. When the snow finally melts and the days grow longer. No sooner than you start enjoying these spring days you realize that time is flying by. Fun evenings as a family may be an evening in the ball diamond or a walk to the closest park. Hiking with a packed lunch or biking to the Library. I'm smitten for sunlight and smiles, families who love to spend an afternoon together. Mommy, you are most likely a dreamer just like me.

Daddy and daughter
You've seen those adorable images on Pinterest for just the perfect family photo session. You may even pin the right outfits for your sweet kiddos. You have dreamed of placing that gorgeous framed print collection over your mantel. Great, everyone is on board, time to get a session booked.

And then it hits.

How on earth am I going to convince my husband to take an afternoon to do family photos? 

I will be honest, it can be a trick. However, it's all about how you go about it. Force has rarely created gorgeous, fun-loving session with photo after photo so wonderful you can hardly decide which five images will win the center of your living space. 

Start by visiting the portfolio of your beloved photographer and then sending him a link to a couple of your favorite images or finding the time to flip through them together. This will show him that there are other dad's out there who have been roped into this game before. Perhaps it won't seem so scary when he realizes that this session won't be in matching turtlenecks in front of a hideous gray velveteen backdrop.

Lake McBride

Secondly you will need to pull out your family calendar and evaluate what you have going on in the next couple of months. Take a look at school schedules, vacation schedules, busy times at work, upcoming appointments, birthday's and church events. Find an afternoon during the week that you can pencil in and call your photographer. When you take the time to be intentional about scheduling the session it will take the guess work out of whether or not your husband may have an important meeting or perhaps a golfing outing planned.

Family photos

Finally, make it fun. When you have a family photo session planned for a time that nothing else is going on it will be relaxing. My most successful sessions have been when families have even taken the afternoon off work and school to simply head out to a remote park together with their favorite vintage truck or football and board games along. Instead of rushing to leave work, get dressed, and run in separate vehicles to get to the photographer in time you can actually enjoy the time.

Chevy truck

If you take special care to consider these steps your photos will all be amazing memories you have from that "one afternoon" you took off together as a family. 

Family photos in North Liberty

If you are interested in scheduling your very own family photo session with Ruby Ellen Photography please contact me for further information.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Easy Pizza Muffins | Sunday Lunch

Pin It
When it comes to Sunday Lunch I often think back to coming home from church to the aroma of a chicken roasting in the oven.
Easter family photo from the 80's

We would fling off those pretty patent leather shoes and skate across the kitchen floor in our tights and matching Sunday dresses to hustle and set the table while mom finished up the sides. Heaps of mashed potatoes, creamed peas, and delectable crescent rolls with homemade strawberry jam. Mom is a special woman who has the skills to set a meal upon the table that no one can deny.

Sadly this mommy finds pleasure in a quick Sunday meal. And so today I bring to you Easy Pizza Muffins that my little guys devoured.
Tips from the heart

You will need:
1 can 8 ct. Grands Biscuits, each biscuit dough split into half
Pizza sauce
Toppings of your choice (we do turkey pepperoni)
4 ounces Mozzarella cheese
muffin pans

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Start by placing each half biscuit dough into the muffin pan. Pressing slightly to take the shape of the pan.
Sprinkle a pinch of cheese in each, top with a teaspoon of pizza sauce, place toppings, then sprinkle about a tablespoon of cheese on top.
Bake at 350 for 16 minutes or until golden brown.
Remove from muffin pan and enjoy!
yields 16 muffins

Pizza muffins

pizza muffin

Ruby Ellen Photography

Ruby Ellen Photography
Enjoy your Sunday afternoon.
- Robyn

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Double Chocolate Caramel Cookies

Pin It
Let's just start out by saying, "If chocolate and caramel are involved, it must be good." Let me also get one thing clear; I am NOT eating these right now as I am on a sweet's "fast" for 6 weeks, on day 18. 

Phew! Now that I got those 2 facts out of the way we can get to the good stuff! 
Ruby Ellen Photography
The recipe came from a cookbook. (Yes, Pinterest is not my only form of recipe finding.) Favorite Brand Name Bake Sale Cookbook.

Chocolate Crackletops

adapted by Robyn Rasmussen
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup butter
4 squares 1 oz each unsweetened baking chocolate
4 large eggs lightly beaten
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 bag Kraft caramels unwrapped and cut into fourths
8 oz semi sweet chocolate chips

Ruby Ellen Photography
 Cut caramels into fourths with cooking shears and set aside with chocolate chips.

  1. Combine flour and baking powder and set aside. 
  2. In a saucepan over medium heat combine 2 cups sugar, stick butter and unsweetened chocolate squares, stirring until butter and chocolate are melted; remove from heat.
  3. Gradually stir in eggs and vanilla. 
  4. Stir in flour mixture until well blended.
  5. Chill for 1 hour.
  6. THEN mix in chocolate chips and caramel bits and chill for 1 more hour.
  7. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 
  8. With sugar dusted hands roll into 1 inch balls and roll in sugar.
  9. Place on baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes. DO NOT OVERBAKE
  10. Cool completely on wire racks. 
  11. Store in tightly covered container.
makes about 3 dozen large cookies. 

Ruby Ellen Photography

Ruby Ellen Photography

Ruby Ellen Photography

Ruby Ellen Photography

Ruby Ellen Photography

Ruby Ellen Photography
Perfect gooey bites of caramel chocolate heaven.