Love these...

Have you seen what my sponsors are up to lately? If not, take a peek at their latest and greatest.

Stella and Dot- New spring styles are here! Lots of feminine details and fresh colors to dress up your wardrobe. And browse through the 'look book' for style inspiration.

Scentsy- Have you seen (or smelled!) the Romance collection? Wonderful way to make your home feel like spring. Check the website for new deals each month.

 Kelly's Kids- Adorable fresh looks, start thinking about those warm weather outfits! I can't get over their 'beach friendly' sandals. Coordinating outfits for the entire family too.

Oopsy Daisy Baby- New skirts are here- the cheetah and sequin are adorable! Now you can follow Oopsy Daisy Baby on twitter too. Stay connected for the latest giveaways and news. Lots of celeb love for this great line!

Thirty Seven West- Fabulous printed ribbon and personlized items. I have my own "Samantha Conner Designs" ribbon from them and it is gorgeous!

North Texas Kids- The Spring Break Guide is here, make plans now for the best week ever! Follow NTK on facebook for the latest articles and resources about parenting, kids, family and fun. Check out their cute 'Easter coloring pages' too.

 Kristie Mills Photography- Now is the time to book Kristie for your Spring portraits! The warmer weather is bringing bright green grass, perfect for Easter photos. Kristie has a fabulous in-house studio too, filled with unique props and backdrops.


Southlake Moms-  So many interesting articles are right at your finger tips, click over to the site for the latest book reviews, recipes, local calendars, and important information. Things that caught my eye: new information on heart health and a tasty recipe for spaghetti carbonara.

Creative Juice- I love this party blog! The creative gal behind the blog, Mindy, always has the best ideas for party food, crafts, and more. Her blog features fun DIY ideas with a twist. Add her to your reading list.

Ordinary Inspirations- An inspirational blog that feeds your spirit and your heart. I love her honest writing style and passion for life. A great read!


I truly could not keep my blog running without these amazing women. Please stop and visit them! And let them know a crafty girl sent you!

Are you interested in joining the "Crafty Texas Girls" team? Email me for information about ad space rates or how your blog can be featured here. I am always looking for great companies and amazing bloggers! craftytexasgirls@gmail.com


Cowgirl Up #4

Welcome to Week 4 of 
 Cowgirl Up! Link Party . . .

the party with a cowgirl can-do  spirit!
1 Party, 4 Blogs

Hey there friends! This is Linsey from The Farmhouse Porch. Did you get a chance to check out the link ups last week? The creative juices that were tapped out over the holidays are really pumping again! Everybody has fresh new ideas and it is really exciting to see the neat stuff you guys are sharing. I was so excited to be able to pick the featured bloggers this time around, until I tried to narrow down the picks. It was like a box of chocolates...all of them are good and each one has something different inside!
Here are my flavors of the week...
An "industrial chic meets romantic"  DIY chandy by Ranger 911 . So dreamy Vickie!

Botanical wall perfection by Dimples and Tangles

A drab to fab TV cabinet makeover with Annie Sloan Chalk paint by Our Adventures in Big Ole Texas

Another cute chandelier! This time a steal-of-a-deal Pottery Barn knock off by The Velvet Door

Is it just me, or is aqua super hot this year? A bold and beautiful finishing job on this chest of drawers by Decorating Insanity

I'm a sucker for handmade gifts. I would be overjoyed to recieve something as lovely as this "DIY Herb Garden Gift Set" by Twigg Studios

And I must say that I'm intrigued by this creamy Lettuce Arugula Soup recipe by Town and Country Living. The recipe looks tasty and the photographs are farmhouse fresh!

 If you were featured here, grab a Featured button.  Be sure to like our Facebook pages, since we also post favorites there too. If you got featured on Facebook, then feel free to grab a featured button also. 

Now about the party...

You link up on my blog and your link shows up on four blogs. 
 More exposure, less time. 

We are looking for the latest and greatest projects, tutorials, ideas, crafts, recipes, decor, and inspiring stories.  Anything that you are proud to show off.

Cowgirl Up! is the link party that saves you time and brings you inspiration.  Doesn't get any easier than that!

What blogs will your link appear on?  Check us out below!
Linsey with The Farmhouse Porch
Anita with Cedar Hill Ranch
Samantha with Crafty Texas Girls

The four of us are all Texas bloggers, but you don't have to be Texas, country, western, or own horses to participate in Cowgirl Up!  You just need that "can-do", cowgirl spirit!
Cowgirl Up! Link Party Guidelines:

(Please read the guidelines before participating)
*  When you link with Cowgirl Up!, your link will automatically show on four different blogs.  Awesome!
*  Please follow your host blog before linking up on GFC and the new linky follow.
*  You may link up decor, DIY, crafts, guest post, recipes, giveaways, sewing, inspiring stories, and anything that you feel related to the listed categories.
*  You may link as many links as you want.
Be sure to include the Cowgirl Up! Button or text link to Cowgirl Up in your linked post.  
*  Be courteous and visit the two links before yours.  Please LIKE your favorite links!  Several projects will be featured each week!

Back to Basics

* Warning :) this is a long post!
In a rush? Want to see a 'short version'? Just watch this YouTube video- it pretty much sums it all up.

And for those of you who have a bit more time...

Every two weeks, I gather with my MOPS friends to share conversation and friendship. Some of our meetings focus on fellowship or crafts or personal improvement.  Our last speaker was a woman named Cindy Carbone. She is well known for her dedication to spreading awareness about proper nutrition. Cindy spoke passionately to our group about the trends in fast food and mass-produced food. The quick, cheap foods that are now being sold to us on a daily basis are doing anything but nourishing our bodies.  Here are few statistics that she shared with our group.

U.S. Health Statistics:-
1. One in two Americans suffers from at least one chronic illness.
2. More than half of U.S. adults are on one or more prescription drugs at any given time.
3. One out of every two men, and one out of every three women will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime.
4. The percentage of U.S. children, and adolescents with chronic health conditions has nearly quadrupled in the past 40 years.
5. 93% of children and adolescents do not consume the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables a day. (Archives of Pediatric & Adolescent Medicine)
6. One in every three children born in the U.S. in the year 2000 is predicted to develop Type 2 Diabetes. (U.S. CDC)
7. By age 12, an estimated 70% of children have the beginning stages of hardening of the arteries. (Bugalosa Heart Study)
8. Today’s generation of children may be the first in two centuries to actually live shorter lives than their parents. (New England Journal of Med.)

"These statistics are shocking, but at the same time, we know their cause. Doctors, and the Centers of Disease Control know why we are dying of cancers, cardiovascular disease, and complications from type 2 diabetes, now more than ever. They know why our children have more cavities, more broken bones, and more chronic health conditions than any generation before.  Our health, and disease issues today are deeply rooted in our diets, behaviors, and lifestyle choices.

"Our society makes it far easier to be unhealthy, than healthy, and provides buzz words like “no sugar, low sodium, and whole grains,” on packaging to draw people into the same processed, and chemically preserved food that is making us sick in the first place.   

To eat healthy food, is to stay away from “America’s food.”  To stay away from brands like McDonalds, Coca Cola, Hersheys, Keebler, Kraft, Tyson, and Kelloggs is to be in the minority, and it is anything but easy, especially when dealing with children. 

At some point in the past 40 years, cookies, candy, cakes, soda, chips, chicken nuggets, donuts, McDonalds, Wendy’s etc became known as “kids food.” As a society we have accepted this, even though giving growing and developing bodies, the most nutrient deficient food that we can buy, makes absolutely no sense! We have stopped cooking real food. We have turned to fast, processed foods that are filled with sugar, sodium, chemicals, and preservatives. Our children eat with their hands more often than they eat with a fork, and knife!"
- via Cindy Carbone's website

I don't think one woman left that meeting without taking a hard look at the food her family is consuming!

One of my goals for this year was to 'eat healthier'. And the points that Cindy covered in her presentation rang true with me.

Cindy emphasized that good eating did not mean eating low fat or being super skinny. Instead she spoke about eating real food. Food the way it was meant to be, not over-processed or filled with preservatives and hormones. She spoke to raise awareness about eating well, to improve our lives and our health. And when you think about it, who doesn't want to do feed their families the best food possible?

 Now I don't claim to be all knowing, or perfect when it comes to eating. We still have things like animal crackers and gold fish crackers in our pantry. But since hearing Cindy speak, doing some online research, and watching the movie "Food Inc"- I have decided to make a few small changes. Baby steps in a journey towards a better life through smarter nutrition.

First, I have given up Diet Coke (I know! Shocking!!!). Second, we are now buying organic poultry and grain-fed beef. We are also eating more fruits and veggies. For the girls, we are trying to do less processed food. I want to see food as it really is, a way to nourish our bodies.  Overall, I think we try to eat healthy, but there is room for improvement.

One thing that Cindy emphasized was cooking at home.  And I love this, because as you know, we do like to cook around here. With two small children, we eat dinner at home at least 5 days a week. And fortunately, my husband is a really good cook! So armed with some new facts, we are trying to do even better by making more things here at home. Knowing what is going into our food is important and by making it at home, we can see exactly what we are eating.

 Think about making homemade bread, we made several loafs from this easy recipe. It only has 5 ingredients! Find the recipe at "One Good Thing".

And there are so many great recipe blogs out there too. We are really liking SkinnyTaste.com. For dinner, we made this Light Cajun Chicken Pasta. It was delicious!

If you are ready to take the plunge and clean up your eating, try 100DaysofRealFood.com. Follow one family's journey as they spend months eating only real, unprocessed food.

100 Days of Real Food
Wanting to learn more about making better choices for your family? Start by visiting Cindy's website, Educate Your Way to Health.

Got any good tips for making healthy food choices? What are your favorite 'recipe' sites? Have you made any changes in your diet lately?

 ** Come back later to link up for "Cowgirl Up!"-- I am hoping to find some new recipes in your posts! 


Take Better Photos

I have always loved taking photos. Nothing fancy, just simple snapshots to document the moment and hold onto a feeling. I used to collect them all in a scrapbook. But the gluing, cutting and stickers became too time consuming. I found myself dreading it. So I started a family blog—a place to preserve the photos and all of our stories. At the end of each year, I print my blog and have it bound into a coffee table book.  It’s a great way to ‘save’ memories. In the course of my family blog and here on 'Crafty Texas Girls', I have taken thousands of photos. Some good, some not so good. But from each photo I learned a little more.

Now, if you are a professional photographer, own the latest version of PhotoShop, or know how to work your camera in ‘manual mode’—this article is not for you. But if you have a decent camera and the desire to capture your family and the moments you hold dear, read on. Because with a few simple tips, even the most novice photographer can take photos that are ‘frame worthy’. 

TIP 1- Turn Off the Flash! Everyone, children, adults, even pets look better in natural light. The flash creates harsh lines and washes out color. Natural light is warm and soft. It illuminates smiles and highlights hair. The best natural light comes just before sunset, around 4-5pm. But even golden morning sun streaming through a window can look dreamy.

TIP 2- Look Beyond. If you go through your favorite professional photos, you will notice that you actually ‘don’t notice’ the background. No crazy toys, garage doors or distracting cars loom behind the smiling faces. So when it comes time to snap a few photos, take a moment to look around your subject. Can you move a few things out of the way? Or even try moving your subject. Trees, grass, or a simple prop like a chair make for beautiful, interesting photos. 

TIP 3- Point of View- Do you usually line your family up and make them smile? Are you always telling your toddler to ‘say cheese’? Then lose the toothy grin and try a new angle. Sometimes only capturing part of the picture can make a big impact. Like a close-up of little hands or feet. Alternately, zoom out. Maybe a ‘larger picture’ tells the story better.

 TIP 4- Lose the Color- Looking for a great photo to frame and display? Revisit some photos taken in the past few years. Anything catch your eye? Try having them re-printed in black and white. It is amazing how an average photo can be become artistic just by setting it in black and white. You can do this on any basic photo software or local printing labs offer the service too. A wall of black and white framed photos is just about the best ‘art’ money can buy.

TIP 5- Capture the Action- Kids have a hard time sitting still, so why make them freeze for a photo? Instead, grab your camera and just let your kids do what they do best, move! Playful moments in the yard, running on the beach, or splashing in the pool are what childhood is all about.

 TIP 6- Rule of Thirds- This is probably my favorite tip because it makes the biggest impact. When you look at your photos, mentally divide the shot into thirds. Choose one third and make sure that is where you put your subject. (Avoid centering the subject of your picture.) If you don’t take have a chance to do this while shooting, you can always crop the photo so it follows the ‘rule of thirds’.

 TIP 7- Practice Makes Perfect- The best way to get a photo is to take a lot them. My computer has over 8000 photos stored on it. When you take out your camera, shoot a lot. The more photos, the better chance you will capture a good one. We are in the digital age- if you don’t like some of them, just hit delete.

Now go grab your camera and capture some memories!

 And in case you are wondering…
-I use “Blog 2 Print” to publish my blog into a book

-My favorite online printing lab is MPIX

- I shoot with a Cannon Rebel

- I back-up my photos weekly with an external drive, crashes happen!

 -Thrifty Decor Chick
-Too Much Time on My Hands
-Home Stories A to Z 
-Tatertots and Jello
-The 36th Avenue
-Serenity Now
-Under the Table and Dreaming
-It's Overflowing

This article was originally published on SouthlakeMoms.com
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